A Listeria outbreak associated with queso fresco and similar cheeses has sickened seven people in Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Virginia, all of whom have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak prompted the CDC to issue a food safety alert for or queso fresco and similar soft, fresh cheeses such as queso blanco and queso panela until the specific type or brand of cheese that is making people sick is identified.
What Does the Health Alert Mean?
At this time, people in high-risk groups should avoid eating queso fresco, queso blanco, and queso panela. People in the high-risk groups for Listeria infections include pregnant women, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems. People who are not in high-risk groups should make sure that they only eat pasteurized cheeses at this time.
The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes exists in nature and grows well in cool, damp environments. In about 90 percent of listeriosis cases, hospitalization is required. In about 20 percent of cases, these infections are fatal. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and infection of newborns.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, loss of balance, confusion, and convulsions. Sometimes those symptoms are preceded by gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually appear within two weeks of exposure but sometimes can take as long as 70 days to develop.
The Outbreak Investigation
The seven people sickened in this outbreak said they first began to experience symptoms on dates ranging from October 20, 2020, to January 22, 2021. Four of the patients are from Maryland; Connecticut, New York and Virginia reported one case each. Genetic tests on bacterial isolates showed all seven were sickened by the same Listeria serovar.
The people sickened in this outbreak range in age from 45 to 75 years old. Three are female four are male. Six of them are Hispanic. In interviews with health officials, four people said they ate queso fresco in the month before they became ill and three said they ate at least one type of Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses. State officials have collected samples of these cheeses from the stores where the patients shopped. They are testing samples of these cheeses in an attempt to discover which brand and type of cheese is the source of these illnesses.
Previous Outbreaks Listeria Cheese Outbreaks
2020 Deli Meat and Cheese Outbreak
Earlier this month, the CDC declared over a Listeria outbreak linked to deli-sliced meats and cheeses that was discovered in 2020 but included illnesses that occurred between 2016 and 2019. Ten peopel were sickened, one of them died. The number of cases reported from each state was: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (2), New York (2), Pennsylvania (3). The fatality was reported from Michigan.
2017 Vulto Creamery Raw Milk Cheese Listeria Outbreak
Eight people including a newborn baby were sickened in a four-state Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to soft raw milk cheeses from Vulto Creamery of Walton, NY. All eight were hospitalized, two of them died. The patients ranged in age from less than one year old to 89 years old. Five were from New York. Connecticut, Florida and Vermont reported one case each. Pritzker Hageman Listeria lawyers represented a client sickened in this outbreak.
2015 Karoun Dairies Soft Cheeses Listeria Outbreak
In 2015, a Listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced by Karoun Dairies Inc. of San Fernando, CA sickened 30 people, killing three of them and causing one miscarriage.
2014 Listeria Outbreak Linked to Dairy Products Produced by Roos Foods
In 2014, a Listeria outbreak linked to dairy products produced by Roos Foods sickened eight people in two states, killing one of them.
2014 Listeria Outbreak Linked to Oasis Brand Cheeses
In 2014, a four-state Listeria outbreak linked to Oasis brand cheeses sickened five people killing one of them. One of the illnesses was diagnosed in a newborn baby. Cases were reported from Georgia, New York, Tennessee, and Texas. The fatality occurred in Tennessee, the only state to report two cases.
2013 Crave Brothers Cheese Listeria Outbreak
In 2013, a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Crave Brothers cheese sickened six people in five states killing one of them and causing one miscarriage. The fatality was reported in Minnesota where one other case also occurred. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas reported one case each.
2012 Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese
In 2012, a 14-sate Listeria outbreak linked to Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese sickened 22 people killing four of them. Pritzker Hageman Listeria lawyers filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods and Forever Cheese on behalf of one of the people sickened in this outbreak.
Experienced Listeria Lawyers
If you were sickened by contaminated cheese and would like to discuss your legal options, contact our Listeria lawyers for a free consultation. Call 1 (888) 377-8900, send a text to 612-261-0856. Or, complete the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.