A multi-state food poisoning outbreak related to processed meats and cheeses has killed an American and caused a pregnant woman to miscarry.
A total of 16 confirmed infections have been recorded in six states so far and 13 hospitalizations since April last year.
The outbreak is caused by the bacterial infection listeria – which can often find its way into processed meats when spread from equipment in processing facilities.
Pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are most at risk from the bacteria because of their weakened immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned the vulnerable not to eat anything from a deli that isn’t “steaming hot.”
Most cases have been discovered in New York, but Maryland, A, B, C and D have all recorded infections.
The listeria outbreak reported by the CDC on Wednesday includes 16 cases in six states. Nearly half of the cases are in New York. It led to 13 hospitalizations, one death and one miscarriage.
It was not revealed where the miscarriage linked to the outbreak occurred.
The outbreak in New York has been traced to the NetCost Market chain of international food stores, but infections in other states may have different sources.
The CDC advises Americans not to eat processed meats 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.
An estimated 250 will die each year, with the elderly, pregnant women and immunocompromised people most at risk.
During this recent outbreak, sporadic cases were discovered by US health officials over the past 18 months.
WHAT IS LISTERIOSE?
Most people who get listeriosis, caused by bacteria called listeria, will experience only mild symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Other symptoms of the infection may include a high temperature of 38°C or higher, aches and pains, according to the NHS.
Listeria monocytogenes (stock) as found in the prepackaged food sold in hospitals
However, more serious complications can occur in people with weakened immune systems, babies, the elderly, and pregnant women.
Many foods may contain listeria, but it is most commonly found in unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, and ready-to-eat foods, such as prepackaged sandwiches.
Listeria is widespread in the environment and can be found in raw food and soil, and in the feces of many mammals, birds and fish.
According to figures, about 180 cases of listeriosis are confirmed each year in England. It strikes around 850 annually in the US.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT LISTERIOSE?
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
- store ready-to-eat food as recommended by the manufacturer
- make sure all hot food is hot all the time
The former was recorded on April 17, 2021 and the latter on September 29, 2022.
The infections spread across the country. Along with New York and Maryland, two cases were discovered 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. Nearly two-thirds are male and they have a median age of 74 years.
It is generally believed that older people are at higher risk for the disease, the CDC warns.
Nearly a dozen, 11, have an Eastern European background or speak Russian.
The CDC warns that there were likely many other cases in between, but a majority of adults endure the disease at home without seeking medical attention.
As a result, they will never test positive for the disease and will be added to the official case totals.
Investigators linked some of the cases to two NetCost stores in New York City.
Environmental samples from a Brooklyn store came back positive for the bacteria. Some open meat packages were also positive.
NetCost Market closed its locations in September 2021 after being notified of the samples by New York City officials.
After a thorough cleaning, it reopened and no positive samples for the bacteria were found.
Samples taken from the same deli in September 2022 tested positive for the strain that caused the outbreak again. The store underwent another thorough cleaning and has since tested negative.
Salami purchased from a second NetCost location on Staten Island also tested positive for the virus.
NetCost did not immediately respond to a request from DailyMail.com for comment.
The exact source of the infections in other states was not revealed by CDC officials, but the agency also links them to processed meats and cheeses.
This is the second outbreak of listeria 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 of Old Europe Cheese, Inc products.
The Michigan-based company supplies cheese to 25 brands, including products sold in Giant, Whole Foods and Lidl packaging.
The disease is normally picked up by eating foods that are contaminated — such as raw vegetables, meat and unpasteurized milk — with the microbial bacteria.
But in rare cases, it can also be picked up through close contact with farm animals.
Patients with Listeria in their gut may experience diarrhea and vomiting, with symptoms starting within 24 hours of contracting the disease.
But in cases where the bacteria spreads to the rest of the body, it can cause 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 the elderly and those with weakened immune systems at higher risk.