The CDC reports that 6 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. All six people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89, with a median age of 55.
Information gathered from interviews asking about foods eaten by individuals taken ill, along with testing of cheeses collected from an individual linked to the outbreak, from a retail location, and from Vulto Creamery, indicates that Ouleout soft cheese is the likely source of illnesses associated with this outbreak.
Routine, random testing by Tennessee food inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in colby cheese and has triggered recalls of a variety of Sargento, Meijer and Amish Classics cheese products.
No illnesses had been reported to Tennessee officials or Michigan-based grocery chain Meijer, according to a state alert and a recall notice posted Thursday and Friday, respectively. However, it can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop following exposure to the bacteria.
“Listeria monocytogenes is unlike many other germs because it can grow in a cold environment,” according to the Tennessee alert. “Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women and may be fatal for individuals with weakened immune systems.”