A multistate outbreak of food poisoning linked to deli meats and cheeses has killed an American and caused a pregnant woman to miscarry.
There have been 16 total confirmed infections in six states so far and 13 hospitalizations since April last year.
The outbreak is being caused by the bacterial infection listeria, which can often find its way onto deli meats when it spreads from equipment at processing facilities.
Pregnant women, the elderly, and people who are immunocompromised are at higher risk of contracting the bacteria due to their weakened immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to those who are vulnerable telling them not to eat anything from a delicatessen that is not ‘very hot’.
Most of the cases have been detected in New York, but Maryland, A, B, C and D all have recorded infections.
The listeria outbreak reported by the CDC on Wednesday encompasses 16 cases in six states. Almost half of the cases are in New York. It has caused 13 hospitalizations, one death and one miscarriage.
It was not disclosed where the miscarriage related to the outbreak occurred.
The outbreak in New York has been linked to the NetCost Market chain of international grocery stores, but infections in other states could have other sources.
The CDC advises Americans not to eat deli meat or cheese unless it has been reheated to at least 165F.
Listeria is a bacterial infection that causes illness in 1,600 Americans each year.
It is estimated that 250 will die each year, with the elderly, pregnant women and the immunocompromised being most at risk.
US health officials have detected cases sporadically over the past 18 months during this recent outbreak.
WHAT IS LISTERIA?
Most people who get listeriosis, which is caused by a bacteria called listeria, will only experience mild symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Other symptoms of the infection can include a high temperature of 38°C or higher, aches and chills, according to the NHS.
Listeria monocytogenes (stock) as found in prepackaged foods sold in hospitals
However, more serious complications can develop in people with weakened immune systems, infants, the elderly, and pregnant women.
Many foods can harbor listeria, but it’s usually found in raw milk, soft cheeses, and ready-to-eat foods like prepackaged sandwiches.
Listeria is widespread in the environment and can be found in raw food and soil, and in the droppings of many mammals, birds, and fish.
Around 180 cases of listeriosis are confirmed each year in England, according to figures. It hits about 850 annually in the US.
HOW CAN LISTERIOSIS BE AVOIDED?
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- wash fruits and vegetables before eating
- store ready-to-eat foods as recommended by the manufacturer
- make sure all hot food is steaming all the way through
The first was registered on April 17, 2021 and the last on September 29, 2022.
Infections spread throughout the country. Along with New York and Maryland, two cases were detected in Illinois and Massachusetts with one each in California and New Jersey.
The ages of those involved in the outbreak range from 38 to 92 years. Almost two-thirds are men and they have an average age of 74 years.
Older people are generally considered to be at higher risk for the disease, the CDC warns.
Nearly a dozen, 11, have Eastern European backgrounds or speak Russian.
The CDC warns that there were probably many other cases in between, but most adults are coping with the illness at home without seeking medical attention.
As a result, they will never test positive for the disease and will be added to official case totals.
Investigators linked some of the cases to two New York City NetCost stores.
Environmental samples from a store in Brooklyn tested positive for the bacteria. Several opened packages of meat also tested positive.
NetCost Market closed the locations in September 2021 after being notified by New York City officials of the samples.
It reopened after a deep cleaning, after which no samples positive for the bacteria were found.
Samples taken from the same deli in September 2022 tested positive for the strain causing the outbreak again. The store underwent another deep cleaning and has since tested negative.
Salami purchased at a second NetCost location on Staten Island also tested positive for the virus.
NetCost did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
CDC officials did not disclose the exact source of the infections in other states, but the agency also links them to deli meats and cheeses.
This is the second listeria outbreak linked to cheese products reported by the CDC in recent weeks.
In September, the agency reported that an outbreak of six cases since 2017 was caused by contamination from Old Europe Cheese, Inc. products.
The Michigan-based company supplies cheese to 25 brands, including products sold in packaging from Giant, Whole Foods and Lidl.
The disease is normally contracted by eating foods that have been contaminated, such as raw vegetables, meat, and unpasteurized milk, with the microbial bacteria.
But in rare cases it can also be contracted from close contact with farm animals.
Patients who have Listeria in their intestines can experience diarrhea and vomiting, with symptoms beginning within 24 hours of capture.
But in cases where the bacteria spread to the rest of the body, it can trigger fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches.
The CDC reports that up to a third of infected people will die from the disease in any given year, with older people and those with weakened immune systems at higher risk.