A Deadly Listeria Outbreak Tied to Deli Meat and Cheese Has Been Reported Across 6 States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to take caution when consuming cold cuts and deli-derived cheeses.

Cheese and deli meat board

If cold-cut sandwiches are a part of your family's weekly lunch rotation, take note: You may need to toss out your recently-purchased deli meats and cheeses to avoid potential illness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these foods have been linked to 16 confirmed listeria infections across six states, the agency reported last Wednesday. So far, 13 people have been hospitalized; one death and pregnancy loss has also been reported.

Out of the confirmed food-borne bacterial infections, seven were documented in New York, three in Maryland, two in Illinois, two in Massachusetts, one in California, and one in New Jersey. The outbreak's strain was initially reported in September from a deli in Brooklyn, N.Y; at that time, several meat products were recalled, but the issue is ongoing.

Those most at risk for infection are pregnant people, the elderly, and individuals with weak immune systems, noted the public health agency. If you are high risk, you should not eat deli meat or cheese unless it is steaming hot or has a 165 degree Fahrenheit internal temperature. As of now, the ages of infected people have ranged from 38 to 92.

The CDC is still accounting for the total number cases; people likely recovered from listeria before reporting their condition. "The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses," said the CDC team.

To avoid illness, toss out deli meat and cheese and clean your refrigerator and any containers that previously stored the products with a soap and hot water cleaning solution, says the public health agency. Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms of listeria after eating deli meat or cheese: diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, disorientation, and loss of balance.

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