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Deadly Listeria Outbreak in Illinois

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According to a statement released on Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deli meat and cheese contamination is to blame for a deadly listeria outbreak that has affected six states including  Illinois

The outbreak has already sickened at least two people in Illinois, as well as several others across multiple states. The FDA advises against eating any meat or cheese from any deli counter without first reheating it “steaming hot” for those at high risk of developing severe disease from listeria infection, such as pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

According to reports from six states, a total of 16 persons have been affected, and 13 of them have been hospitalized. According to a statement from the CDC, Maryland saw one reported fatality and one pregnant woman who fell unwell and miscarried.

Seven listeria infections have so far been documented in New York, three in Maryland, two in Illinois, two in Massachusetts, one each in California and New Jersey, two in Illinois, and three in New York. The ages of those afflicted ranged from 38 to 92, with a mean of 74. Men made up more than half of the sick.

According to the CDC, the majority of those affected by the outbreak so far are of Eastern European ancestry or speak Russian, and the organization is still looking into the causes of why this community seems to be more frequently affected than others.

What is Listeria?

Listeria is a persistent microorganism that can be challenging to eliminate from surfaces and equipment.

The typical cause of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is consuming food that has been contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

According to CDC data, it causes illness in roughly 1,6000 people a year and kills about 260 people. Listeria is particularly harmful to the elderly, expectant mothers, and anyone with weakened immune systems.

What are the Symptoms?

Pregnant women are considerably more vulnerable to listeria infections than other healthy adults are, according to the Mayo Clinic, but while an infection may only result in a mild illness in pregnant women, it may have more serious effects on their unborn children.

Fever, aches in the muscles, nausea, and diarrhea are all signs of listeria poisoning, although how severe they are will vary greatly from person to person. Even those not at high risk for infection can contract the disease, but serious illness is less common.

When eating contaminated food, symptoms of an invasive illness, or one in which “bacteria have spread beyond the intestines,” typically appear two weeks later.

What has to be done?

The following is what the CDC advises:

  • If you are more vulnerable, avoid consuming meat or cheese from any deli counter until it has been reheated to 165°F or steaming hot.
  • Clear up your refrigerator, any containers, and any surfaces that may have come into contact with deli cheese or meat.
  • If you have any serious listeria infection symptoms after consuming meat or cheese from a deli, contact your doctor immediately.
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