The deadly Listeria outbreak linked to Dole prepackaged salads has expanded to nine states sickening 18 people, one of whom has died, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All 18 people were hospitalized; one of them was a pregnant woman.
Since the last update from the CDC on January 28, the outbreak has spread to one more state – Ohio, and grown to include three more illnesses. Health officials used DNA “fingerprinting” to identify the outbreak. The first illness was reported July 15, 1015, the most recent illness reported was on January 31, 2016.
“Listeria is very difficult to trace given that its typical incubation period is 21 days – and it can be much longer. In this case, the CDC began tracking illnesses in September but was not able to identify a source until four months later, in January 2016,” said attorney Elliot Olsen of the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen. “Bagged salad producers need to be particularly careful to eliminate this bacteria from their production plants.”
Laboratory tests and epidemiologic evidence indicate that bagged salads produced at Dole’s Springfield plant are the likely source of this outbreak, according to the CDC. These salads were also sold in Canada where eleven people have been sickened and three have died. It has not been determined if Listeria contributed to the cause of the deaths, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
On January 22, Dole announced it was “temporarily suspending operations at its Springfield, Ohio production facility, and is voluntarily withdrawing from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at that location.” Five days later, the company announced it was recalling all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Springfield plant.
The recalled salads were sold under the following names: Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice. The manufacturing code found underneath the “enjoy by” date of potentially affected salads begins with the letter “A.” They were sold at Giant, Kroger, ALDI, Price Chopper, Walmart, Fred Meyer, Schnucks, Meijer, ShopRite, Stop n Shop, Food 4 Less, Jay C, FoodsCo, PriceRite and other stores. Consumers who have purchased these products should not eat them.
Listeria causes an infection called listeriosis which can be fatal. Symptoms of an infection, which can take up to 70 days after exposure to develop, include stiff neck, headache, muscle soreness and flu-like symptoms that are sometimes preceded by nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Those most at risk are young children, seniors, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Among pregnant women, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and infection in newborns. One of the case patients in this outbreak, who range in age from 3 to 83 years old, is a pregnant woman.
By state, the case count is as follows: Connecticut (1), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Ohio (2), and Pennsylvania (1). The fatality was reported in Michigan.
Health officials have performed whole genome sequencing on clinical isolates from all ill people. Results show the “isolates are highly related genetically,” according to the CDC.