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A listeria outbreak linked to deli meats has sickened 10 people in three states with one reported death, according to federal health officials.
In an investigation notice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said officials were investigating a multistate outbreak of listeria monocytogenes infections linked to deli meats, also known as lunch meat or cold cuts.
The CDC says a “specific type of deli meat and common supplier have not yet been identified” but, in interviews, nine of the ill people reported “eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto” purchased prepackaged or sliced at deli counters.
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As of information posted Oct. 23, there have been seven cases from Massachusetts, two from New York and one from Florida.
All 10 people were hospitalized and the death was reported in Florida, the CDC said. The ill people range in age from 40 to 89 and 80% have been female.
Those at higher risk for getting sick with listeria are pregnant women, adults 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems, the CDC said, noting if you are not in these groups then “you are unlikely to get sick from Listeria.”
However, the CDC does advise people at higher risk of getting sick from listeria to “avoid eating deli meats, unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.”
The CDC says listeria can cause different symptoms and invasive listeriosis usually start one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria but can start as late as 70 days after exposure.
Pregnant women typically experience fever and other flu-like symptoms, but that infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Symptoms in people who are not pregnant can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches, the CDC said.
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Of the nine victims interviewed by investigators, all had eaten Italian-style cold cuts, such as salami, mortadella and prosciutto, that were prepackaged or purchased at the deli. A specific type of meat or supplier has not yet been identified, however.
The CDC recommends avoiding eating deli meat unless it is heated to an internal temperature of 165 or until steaming hot just before serving.
Symptoms of a listeria infection
Listeriosis, the infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, most often causes sickness in adults 65 and older, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and newborns. Symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, fever, muscle aches and convulsions.
People usually report symptoms one to four weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria. But some people have reported symptoms as late as 70 days after exposure to as early as the same day of exposure.
Listeriosis is diagnosed when a bacterial culture grows the germ from a sample of body tissue or fluid, such as blood, spinal fluid or the placenta. It is treated with antibiotics.
About 1,600 people in the U.S. get listeriosis each year, resulting in about 260 deaths, the CDC estimates. Americans 65 and over are four times more likely to get a listeria infection than others.
A Listeria outbreak has sickened 10 people across three states, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes deli meats are the cause.
The CDC issued a warning about the outbreak Friday, which has sent ten people from Florida, Massachusetts and New York to the hospital and led to the death of one person in Florida.
Deli meat was the likely the source of the outbreak, the agency said. Nine victims reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, though the CDC has yet to identify a common meat or supplier as the source.
The median age of those infected was 81 and most were female. While many are unlikely to get seriously ill from Listeria, people 65 and older, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are at a higher risk for becoming sick.
Listeria can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life threatening infection of the newborn.
Symptoms of infection usually begin one to four weeks after eating contaminated food and can include fever, muscle aches, headache, confusion and loss of balance.
Previous Listeria outbreaks have been linked to hard boiled eggs, mushrooms and soft cheeses.
The CDC advises those who are at high risk for infection to avoid eating deli meat, unless is thoroughly heated first. The agency also advises storing the meat in the refrigerator, away from other food and keeping surrounding surfaces clean.
The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.