Deadly listeria outbreak linked to deli meats, cheeses: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday warned that one person has died and 13 others have been hospitalized from a listeria outbreak linked to deli meat and cheese.

The outbreak, which has infected 16 people so far, has been detected in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California, according to the CDC’s latest update.

Seven of the 16 illnesses were found in New York, according to CDC data.

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However, officials warned that the actual number of sick people may be higher than what was reported and that the outbreak may not be limited to the states mentioned above.

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So far, it is believed that meats and cheeses purchased at deli counters in some states, “are the likely source of this outbreak,” according to the CDC. Federal health officials say deli meats and cheeses are known sources of listeria.

The CDC said it was difficult to identify a single food in an outbreak linked to deli meats and cheeses due to the fact that the bacteria spread “easily between food and the deli environment and can survive for long periods of time in deli display cases and on equipment.”

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A dozen people were interviewed by local public health officials. Eleven of them reported that they had eaten meat or cheese from the deli counter.

Five out of seven people who got sick in New York told health officials they bought deli meat or cheese slices from at least one location of the NetCost Market grocery chain.

Listeria outbreak

US health officials say at least one death has been linked to an outbreak of listeria food poisoning linked to deli meat and cheese slices that sickened 16 people in six states, including 13 who were hospitalized. (Elizabeth White/CDC via AP, File/AP Newsroom)

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However, “investigators do not believe that NetCost Market delis were the sole source of illness because some of the people who became ill in the outbreak did not shop at NetCost Market,” the CDC said, adding that “contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in some states.”

Elderly individuals, people who are pregnant and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness, according to the CDC.

Healthy individuals can experience mild food symptoms such as diarrhea and fever, officials said.

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