Listeria tied to deli meat hospitalizes at least 16, kills 1

By Immanual John Milton | Bloomberg

More than a dozen people have been hospitalized and one has died in an outbreak of listeria bacteria linked to contaminated deli meats and cheeses, US health officials said.

The strain of listeria has been found in 16 people across six states, including California, with New York reporting the most, according to a report Wednesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eastern European and Russian-speaking people accounted for 11 of the 13 cases for whom ethnicity information was available.

An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year and about 260 of them die, according to the CDC website. It typically grows when food is stored inappropriately and is most likely to cause severe disease in pregnant women, infants, older people and those with weak immunity. Some infections can affect the brain and spinal cord or cause severe reactions or sepsis.

Samples of contaminated food were collected from April 17, 2021 to Sept. 29, 2022, the CDC said. The sole death was in a resident of Maryland. Another person became sick during pregnancy, resulting in the termination of the fetus. Patients’ ages range from 38 to 92, the CDC said.

The CDC website says people are at higher risk for severe Listeria illness if they are pregnant, aged 65 or older or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments. Those who are in any of these groups, should not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees or steaming hot.

NetCost Market, a Brooklyn-based store linked to five of seven cases in New York, voluntarily closed its deli after New York officials’ notification in September 2021 and performed a deep clean after which it reopened following an environmental test. The outbreak strain was found at that location again in September 2022, but no further illnesses were identified.

After another cleaning, more testing found no listeria.

Other states reporting listeria illnesses were Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois

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