Lethal Listeria Epidemic Traced to Deli Meat and Cheese in Six States

Lethal Listeria Epidemic Traced: New York has had seven cases of listeria, Maryland three, Illinois two, Massachusetts two, California one, and New Jersey one. The average age was 74 years old among the infected, whose ages varied from 38 to 92. There were more males than women among the ill.

Research in Six States Links a Deadly Listeria Outbreak to Deli Meat and Cheese

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Wednesday that a fatal listeria epidemic affecting six states was traced back to tainted deli meat and cheese.

Meat and cheese from deli counters should be reheated until “steaming hot” before being consumed by persons at high risk of serious disease from listeria infection, such as pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, according to the agency.

According to the latest data from all six states, 16 persons have contracted the virus, with 13 of them requiring hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement that one person had died in Maryland and another had gotten sick while pregnant and had to have their baby put to sleep.

So far, there have been reports of listeria illnesses in seven states: New York (7), Maryland (3), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (2), California (1), and New Jersey (1). The infected population had a wide age distribution, with the median being 74 and the mode being 38. More males than women fell ill. According to the CDC, the majority of those who have been identified as part of the outbreak are either of Eastern European heritage or speak Russian; the organization is currently looking into the causes of this apparent disproportionate impact.

However, not all infected persons who become ill require medical attention, and hence their cases have gone undetected. According to the CDC, “the real number of sick patients in this epidemic is certainly larger than the number recorded,” and the disease may have spread outside the states where cases have been documented.

Five of the seven New York residents who fell ill had previously purchased sliced deli meat or cheese from a NetCost Market, a network of supermarkets offering foreign items, according to interviews conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted, however, that patients from other states who had contracted the sickness reported purchasing meats or cheeses from delis outside of the affected area.

Lethal Listeria Epidemic Traced
The CDC warns that listeria infections can be widespread in delis and other food processing facilities due to the ease with which the bacteria can transfer from one food item to another and then to other surfaces. The FDA suggests washing your refrigerator, any containers the deli meat or cheese may have touched, and anything else that might have been contaminated with hot, soapy water if you have just purchased deli meat or cheese.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that anybody who eats deli meat or cheese and develops severe symptoms of Listeria infection should see their doctor immediately.

Most people feel the effects of a listeria infection within four weeks, but it can take up to 70 days. Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms can sometimes be the first indication of an infection. After then, you can experience things like a headache, stiff neck, fever, muscular discomfort, a loss of balance, disorientation, and even convulsions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that those over the age of 65, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women are at increased risk of contracting and dying from Listeria, making it the third largest cause of death from food poisoning in the United States. Women who are expecting children are particularly vulnerable. The CDC reports that pregnant women are at a 24 percent higher risk of contracting listeria than non-pregnant women and that the risk is considerably higher for Hispanic pregnant women.

Even while pregnant women often just have flu-like symptoms, the risk to their growing fetus is significant. Miscarriage, early birth, and stillbirth are all possible outcomes of an infection during pregnancy. It is possible for a newborn infected with listeria to develop blood infections, meningitis, and other life-threatening problems.

Antibiotics can help you recover from a listeria infection.

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