Two dozen people sick, one dead in new outbreak of Listeria infections

Officials with the CDC have identified a new outbreak of infections from Listeria monocytogenes that has sickened people in 10 states, killing one.

“Of the 22 people with information, 20 sick people reported living in or traveling to Florida in the month before they got sick, although the significance of this is still under investigation,” according to the outbreak notice posted today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 23 confirmed patients range in age from less than one year old to 92 years old. Slightly more than half, 52 percent, are male, according to the CDC. Five people got sick during their pregnancy, and one illness resulted in a fetal loss. One death has been reported from Illinois.

All but one of the 23 patients required hospitalization. The sick people became ill between Jan. 24, 2021, through June 12, 2022.

Public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick. So far, a common food item has not been identified. Whole genome sequencing showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak likely got sick from the same food.

The actual number of sick people remains unknown, partly because of the time it takes to diagnose and do follow up testing, which can take three to four weeks, and partly because it can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop.

“The outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” The CDC reports.

The sick people live in Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Rhode Island.

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled product should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop. 

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses. 

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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