- Deli meat and cheese has been linked to a Listeria outbreak in six states that has killed one person.
- Pregnant people, those older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sick.
- Listeria can cause symptoms including a fever and muscle aches.
A Listeria outbreak in six states linked to deli cheese and meat has killed one person and caused a pregnant person to miscarry, but most people are not at risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Wednesday, 16 people had been infected and 13 of those were hospitalized, the CDC wrote in an advisory. One person got sick during their pregnancy, resulting in a miscarriage, and another died in Maryland, it stated.
The number of people affected during the current outbreak, between April 17 2021 and September 29, could be higher because not everyone with the infection gets tested, the CDC said. It said recent illnesses may not yet have been reported as it usually takes between three to four weeks to confirm if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
“Investigators are still working to identify any specific products or delis that may be contaminated with the outbreak strain,” the CDC said.
Listeriosis, an infection caused by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes, is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the US — an estimated 1,600 people get sick from it each year and about 260 die, according to the CDC.
People who are pregnant are 10 times more likely to get infected
People catch Listeria from eating contaminated food. It can spread onto food from deli countertops, slicers, and people’s hands, and persists for a “long time” even at cold temperatures in the fridge, the CDC states.
People who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system from medical conditions or treatments are at highest risk of severe illness. People who are not in those groups are unlikely to get sick from it.
Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than others who aren’t pregnant to get infected, according to the CDC.
People at risk of getting sick should avoid eating any deli counter meat or cheese, unless it is reheated to “an internal temperature of 165°F” or “steaming hot,” the CDC said on Wednesday.
The CDC also recommended that people at high risk clean their fridge and any containers and surfaces that may have touched deli meat or cheese.
Listeria causes fever and muscle aches
Like other types of food poisoning, a Listeria infection can cause diarrhea and a fever. But, the infection is usually diagnosed when it has spread beyond the gut, for example to the brain or bloodstream.
People who are not pregnant can get symptoms including: a fever, headache, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.
Those who are pregnant experience: fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. It can also cause people to miscarry, give birth prematurely, or a life-threatening infection of the newborn as it can spread through the placenta.
According to the CDC, symptoms of severe illness usually start within two weeks of getting infected, but it can take up to 10 weeks to experience symptoms.
A Listeria infection can be treated with antibiotics.