October 14, 2019

Listeria Monocytogenes Deli Meats and Cheese Outbreak Ends

The Listeria monocytogenes deli meats and cheeses outbreak is over after sickening 10 people in 5 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All 10 people were hospitalized. One person who lived in Michigan died.

Listeria Monocytogenes Deli Meats and Cheese Outbreak Ends

The patient case count by state is: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (2), New York (2), and Pennsylvania (3). The illness onset dates ranged from November 13, 2016 to June 20, 2019. Ill persons ranged in age from 40 to 88 years.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence found that deli-sliced meats and cheese might have been contaminated with Listeria bacteria and made people sick. Of the eight people interviewed, 63% said they ate products sliced at a deli counter, including meats and cheeses. There was limited information about the brands that ill people purchased, and the delis where they shopped served many brands.

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USDA and FDA evaluated records collected by state inspectors from delis where they shopped to try to find a common meat or cheese product. They did not identify a common product.

But the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes was found in samples from meat sliced at a deli, and from deli counters in multiple retail locations in New York and Rhode Island. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Listeria from these samples was closely related genetically to the Listeria from ill people.

This outbreak is a reminder that deli products can be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. People who are at higher risk for listeriosis should avoid eating lunch meats, cold cuts, soft cheese, and other deli meats unless they are heated to a temperature of 165°F just before serving.

In addition, don’t let juices from lunch meats and hot dog packages get onto other foods, especially those that are eaten raw, as well as utensils and food preparation surfaces.

People who are at a higher risk for contracting this infection include the elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses.

In addition, don’t let juices from lunch meats and hot dog packages get onto other foods, especially those that are eaten raw, as well as utensils and food preparation surfaces. Wash your hands after handling deli meats, lunch meats, deli cheese, and hot dogs. And store opened packages of meat sliced at a deli no longer than five days in the fridge.

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