November 12, 2020

Most Listeria Cases Are in Massachusetts in Deli Meat Listeria Outbreak

Most Listeria cases are in Massachusetts in the deli meat Listeria monocytogenes outbreak announced last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All ten patients have been hospitalized, and one person, who  lived in Florida, has died.

Most Listeria Cases in Massachusetts in Deli Meat Listeria Outbreak

Seven people who live in Massachusetts were sickened in this outbreak. The patients who gave information to investigators said that they ate Italian-style meats, such as mortadella, salami, and prosciutto before they got sick. They purchased both prepackaged deli meats  and meats that were sliced at the counter. Officials do not yet know if there is a specific meat or common supplier that is linked to these illnesses.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to try to find patients who have been sickened with this strain of Listeria bacteria. Whole genome sequencing was performed on patient isolates and that method showed that bacteria from ill persons was closely related genetically. That means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

The patient age range in this outbreak is skewing higher, with no patient younger than 40. The median age of the patients is 81, which is typical for a listeriosis outbreak. The elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract this infection.

Deli meats are a particular risk for Listeria monocytogenes contamination because the pathogen can establish itself so easily in food environments and can be difficult to eradicate. In fact, Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can form a biofilm to protect itself against cleaning materials.

In fact, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) launched a pilot project on Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in delis. This pathogen can grow at refrigerator temperatures and freezing doesn’t kill it. It survives in tiny nooks and crevices and can contaminate deli slicers.

While this pathogen doesn’t cause many illnesses in the United States every year, just about 1,600, those who get sick are usually very sick. Of those 1,600 sickened, 1,500 are hospitalized and 280 die. We don’t know why most Listeria cases are in Massachusetts in this particular outbreak.

Symptoms of listeriosis, which can take up to 70 days to appear because of a long incubation period, can include high fever, stiff neck, serious headache, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. If you have eaten deli meats and have been ill with these symptoms, contact your doctor. you could be part of this deli meat Listeria monocytogenes outbreak.

Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Lawyers

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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