Deli meat and cheese sold at NetCost and other stores has been linked to a deadly multistate Listeria outbreak. Health officials have not yet identified the specific brand or brands that are causing the illnesses and are warning people in high-risk groups for Listeria -pregnant women, people over 65, and people with underlying health conditions, not to eat deli meat or cheese unless it is heated to an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, other muscle stiffness, confusion, loss of balance, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms can appear within 24 hours of exposure but sometimes it can take as long as 70 days for them to develop.
People at high risk of contracting Listeria infections include pregnant women, seniors, small children, and people with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women can suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and infection of newborns even if they themselves experience only mild, flu-like symptoms.
So far, 13 of the 16 people sickened in this outbreak have been hospitalized, one woman has suffered a miscarriage, and one person has died. These outcomes are dire but not unique, according to CDC records and a new Listeria study. Roughly 90 percent of all patients with Listeria infections require hospitalization, about 20 percent of cases are fatal. So, how common are deli meat Listeria outbreaks?
Researchers from universities in Minnesota, Maryland, and Cordoba, Spain looked at the prevalence of Listeria in various food commodities during two different time periods, (1990–2020) and (2015–2020), and compared them. The study called, Quantitative risk assessment model to investigate the public health impact of varying Listeria monocytogenes allowable levels in different food commodities: A retrospective analysis, found that deli meat was the source of 95 percent of Listeria outbreaks.
Recent Deli Meat Listeria Outbreaks
The current Listeria outbreak is the fourth one linked to deli meat and cheese since 2018.
2020 Deli Meat Listeria Outbreak
In October 2020, the CDC announced a three-state Listeria outbreak linked to Italian-style deli meat that had sickened 10 people. All of them were hospitalized, one person died. The illnesses were reported in Massachusetts, New York, and Florida.
2019 Deli Meat and Cheese Listeria Outbreak
In 2019, a four-state Listeria outbreak linked to deli meat and cheese sickened eight people killing one of them. The outbreak included illnesses reported from late 2016 to 2019. Cases were reported from Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York, and New Jersey. All patients were hospitalized. The fatality was reported in Michigan..
2018 Johnston County Ham Listeria Outbreak