'Fast-Moving' Listeria Outbreak in US

CDC investigates Listeria outbreak tied to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses

(RxWiki News) Health officials are investigating a "fast-moving" outbreak of Listeria that has hit four states.

This outbreak has been tied to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses. The company that sells queso fresco under the names El Abuelito, Rio Grande and Rio Lindo has recalled these products.

As of publishing time, seven people had been sickened after exposure to cheese thought to be contaminated with Listeria. The sickened people were from four states: Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Virginia. All seven people were hospitalized.

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause severe infections. Symptoms typically start between one and four weeks after exposure. They include fever, muscle aches, headaches, loss of balance, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions. In pregnant women, Listeria can cause infection of the newborn, premature delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was warning that people who are at high risk from Listeria — pregnant women and older people — should avoid all Hispanic-style soft cheeses until more information has become available. For those who are not at particularly high risk, the CDC advised making sure that any queso fresco or similar cheese you eat is made with pasteurized milk.

After health officials in Connecticut tied the Listeria outbreak to El Abuelito queso fresco in the store where a sick person purchased it from, the company recalled all queso fresco products made at the same place with sell-by dates through March 28, 2021.

If you have purchased any of the affected cheese, do not eat it, the CDC advised. Instead, throw it away or return it to where you purchased it.

The CDC also recommended cleaning your refrigerator with the following method if you bought any of the recalled cheese:

  • Throw the cheese away.
  • Take everything out of your fridge.
  • Wash the removable parts, such as shelves and bins.
  • Sanitize the inside of the fridge.
  • Put the shelves, drawers and non-recalled food back in the fridge.

If you have symptoms of Listeria infection, seek immediate medical care.

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Review Date: 
February 23, 2021