16 People Infected, 1 Dead in Listeria Outbreak Linked to Deli Meat, Cheese

16 People Infected, 1 Dead in Listeria Outbreak Linked to Deli Meat, Cheese
The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes as seen in a file photo. (Courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Katabella Roberts
Sixteen people have been infected with the outbreak strain of listeria across six states in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Nov. 9.

The outbreak has been connected to meat and cheese from deli counters contaminated with listeria, health officials said. Investigators are still working to identify any specific products or delis that may be contaminated with the bacteria.

To date, one listeria infection has been reported in California while three have been reported in Maryland, two in Massachusetts, two in Illinois, one in New Jersey, and seven in New York.

One death has been reported in Maryland.

The CDC said that samples of sick individuals were collected from April 17, 2021, to Sept. 29, 2022.

They range from 38 to 92 years of age, with a median age of 74, and 62 percent are male, the CDC said. Of 13 people with ethnicity information available, 11 are of Eastern European background or speak Russian.

One of the individuals, a pregnant woman, became sick during her pregnancy and lost her child, according to the health officials. A total of 13 individuals have been hospitalized.

True Number Of Sick People ‘Likely Higher’

However, the health body noted that the “true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, 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,” the CDC said.

Listeria is a foodborne bacterial illness typically caused by consuming food products that are infected with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, most commonly found in improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products.

Symptoms usually occur within 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria but can take as long as 70 days after exposure to show. They include fever, headache, and flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and fatigue, stiff neck, confusion, and seizures.

Pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk of contracting a listeria infection.

An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die, according to the CDC.
Health officials investigating the outbreak have been interviewing people to find out what foods they ate in the month prior to falling sick. Of the 12 people interviewed, 11 reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters, the CDC said.

Contaminated Food Linked To Strain

Among those who fell sick in New York, five recalled purchasing sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location of NetCost Market, a chain of stores selling international foods. Sick people from other states purchased deli meats or cheeses from other delis, the CDC said.

In 2021, New York state and city health officials identified strains of listeria at NetCost Markets in Brooklyn and Staten Island, according to the CDC.

Following the detection of the bacteria, the Brooklyn location temporarily and voluntarily closed while it underwent a deep cleaning. It reopened after further environmental testing did not identify listeria.

However, in September 2022, the outbreak strain was found at the same Brooklyn NetCost Market deli, the CDC said, and the store shut down for a deep clean again. Environmental testing did not identify listeria in the deli, the CDC said, noting that the most recent illness with NetCost Market exposure was in October 2021.

“Investigators do not believe that NetCost Market delis are the only source of illnesses because some sick people in the outbreak did not shop at a NetCost Market,” the CDC said. “A contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states.”

Health officials recommend people who are at higher risk of contracting the bacterial illness avoid eating meat or cheese from any deli counter unless it has been reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F or is steaming hot.

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
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