September 21, 2019

Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak Announced; No Food Identified

A Listeria monocytogenes outbreak has been announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty-four people in 13 states are sick. Twenty-two people have been hospitalized, and two people have died.

Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak Announced; No Food Identified

The patient case count by state is: California (4), Florida (1), Iowa (1), Illinois (4), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (3), New York (2), Ohio (2), Oregon (2), and Texas (1). Listeria specimens were collected from patients from July 20, 2017 to August 1, 2019. The patient age range is from 35 to 92 years.

This is a strange outbreak announcement, because the notice states that “A specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of infections in the United States.” This is very unusual. In most outbreak notices, a food is typically identified, although the grower, manufacturer, store, restaurant, or even brand name may not yet be named by the government.

The PulseNet system, a national sub typing network of public health and food regulatory agency labs that is coordinated by the CDC, was used to find people sickened in this outbreak. DNA fingerprinting is performed on all isolates submitted to PulseNet. Officials use this system to identify people who have been sickened by the same pathogen.

The notice does, however, state that the Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in that country that is linked to ready-to-eat frozen cooked diced chicken. Whole genome sequencing shows that the type of Listeria making people sick in Canada is “closely related genetically” to the Listeria making people sick in the U.S. Two recalls of three brands of chicken have been issued in Canada.

Symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by this pathogen, include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. The elderly, the very young, and people with compromised immune systems are most likely to become very ill when they contract this infection. Pregnant women can also be seriously affected, and may suffer miscarriage and stillbirth, even though their illness seems to be mild.

The CDC does, however, list standard tips to avoid listeriosis. Foods to be avoided if you are in a high risk group include:

  • Lunch meats, cold cuts, and other deli meats, unless they are heated to 165°F before serving;
  • Cold smoked fish, unless it is shelf-stable or cooked.
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products, including soft cheeses ice cream, and yogurt.
Bad Bug Law Team | Pritzker Law Firm

If you or a loved one have been sickened with a Listeria monocytogenes infection, please contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

 

 

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