The CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. The epidemiologic and laboratory data collected show that meat and cheese from deli counters contaminated with Listeria are making people sick. Investigators are still working to identify any specific products or delis that may be contaminated with the outbreak strain.
As of November 9, a total of 16 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from six states—California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. The agencies collected samples from sick people from April 17, 2021 to September 29, 2022. CDC says that 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. Thirteen people have been hospitalized and one person became sick during their pregnancy, which resulted in pregnancy loss. Additionally, one death has been reported from Maryland.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick. Of the 12 people interviewed, 11 reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters. Among seven sick people in New York, five bought sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location of NetCost Market, a grocery store chain that sells international foods. Sick people from other states purchased deli meats or cheeses from other deli counters. The investigators do not believe that NetCost Market delis are the only source of illnesses because some sick people in the outbreak did not shop at a NetCost Market. A contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states.
Symptoms from Listeria can take several days to two weeks to appear, contributing to the difficulty in determining the source of the contamination. Symptoms include neck stiffness, confusion, headache, fever, loss of balance, muscle aches, nausea, and intestinal distress.
CDC is advising that people at higher risk of severe Listeria illness—people who are pregnant, people who are 65 years of age and older, and people with a weakened immune system—to not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F. Consumers should discard any deli meats or cheeses and thoroughly clean and sanitize any surfaces that came into contact with these products and wash hands after handling.