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Officials investigating fatal Listeria outbreak in deli meats and cheeses in 6 states including Massachusetts



BOSTON – CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria infections linked to deli meats and cheeses.

People infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported (16), and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

One person has died and a woman who got sick during her pregnancy, lost her baby.

Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat and cheeses are the likely source of the outbreak.

A specific type of deli meat and common supplier have not yet been identified.

You are at higher risk for getting seriously ill with Listeria if you are pregnant, aged 65 years or older, or have a weakened immune system.

Do not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter, unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot. This is because Listeria can grow on foods kept in the refrigerator, but it is easily killed by heating food to a high enough temperature.

Clean your refrigerator, containers, and surfaces that may have touched deli meat or cheese from the deli.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of severe Listeria illness after eating meat or cheese from a deli:

-People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.

-Pregnant people usually experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria can cause pregnancy loss or premature birth. It can also cause serious illness or death in newborns.

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