October 4, 2023

Focus of Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak Shifts to Texas

Listeria Focus Shifts to TexasThe most recent government findings in the Listeria food poisoning outbreak associated with Blue Bell ice cream have placed Texas in an even greater spotlight than before. Already recognized as the home state of the 108-year-old Blue Bell Creameries Co., Texas has now been confirmed by federal health investigators as the location of a second cluster of illnesses in the outbreak.

Based on reportsĀ from the FDA, CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services, three Texas hospital patients became ill with listeriosis over a period of time from 2011-2014. Officials who have studied the molecular fingerprints of Listeria found in Blue Bell ice cream say it matches the strains in the Texas hospital patients. None of the agencies would provide details about the Texas case patients, but they rank with the five Kansas hospital patients previously identified as outbreak victims. Three of those Listeria victims in Wichita died. Records at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital indicated to investigators that at least four of the five Kansas patients drank milkshakes made from Blue Bell “Scoops” ice cream, made in Brenham, Texas.

Conversely, according to CDC, the three patients reported from Texas during 2011 through 2014 were infected with Listeria monocytogenes strains that were nearly identical to Listeria strains isolated from ice cream produced at Blue Bell’s plant in Oklahoma. In CDC reports, the Kansas group is known as “Cluster 1” while the Texas group is described as “Cluster 2.”

In Texas as in Kansas, all case patients were hospitalized for unrelated problems before developing listeriosis. And while eight illnesses have been confirmed, the CDC is considering the older cases of three additioal patients who contracted listeriosis during 2010 through 2012. Results of further testing will deermine if they should be added to the outbreak. The CDC hasn’t said whether the three pending cases were from Texas or not.

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