A Listeria outbreak in six US states has been linked to contaminated meat and cheese from deli counters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced.
As of November 9, 16 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from six states: California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland.
The CDC says that the true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher, and the outbreak may not be limited to the six 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.
Of 14 people with information available to investigators, 13 have been hospitalized, including one Maryland resident who died. One person got sick during their pregnancy, resulting in pregnancy loss.
Health officials are now interviewing people about the foods they ate in the month before getting sick. Of the 12 people interviewed, 11 reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters in the month before they got sick.
Among seven sick people in New York, five bought sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location of NetCost Market, a grocery store chain that sells international foods. However, officials do not believe that NetCost Market delis are the only source of illnesses.
Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the US. The CDC estimates that about 260 people die from the infection annually. Pregnant people and their newborns, people 65 and older, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
According to the CDC, pregnant women are ten times more likely than other people to get Listeria infection. The infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and preterm labor.