Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, and is most commonly seen in the form of food poisoning. Most healthy people will either have no symptoms or a mild and self-limiting gastroenteritis, but for pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems this infection can be deadly.
Each year the CDC estimates Listeriosis causes an average of 1600 illnesses, and 28 deaths in the United States.
The largest outbreak to date was in 2011, when 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and 1 miscarriage occurred across 28 states associated with consumption of cantaloupe produced by a single Colorado farm (Link). Last spring there was a 2-state outbreak of Listeriosis – resulting in 8 cases and 1 death – linked to a cheese manufacturer in Delaware (link).
Yesterday the CDC announced an investigation into a multistate outbreak of Listeriosis that has already sickened 28 people across 10 states, killing 5. Nine of these illnesses were pregnancy related, and three otherwise health children developed meningitis from the infection.
Initial investigations have led the CDC to believe the source of this infection are commercially produced caramel apples, and so they are recommending that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.
Posted December 19, 2014 9:30 AM ET
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- CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.
- The information CDC has at this time indicates that commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be contaminated with Listeria and may be causing this outbreak.
- Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.
- Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide or may be in consumers’ homes.
- This investigation is rapidly evolving. New information will be provided as it becomes available.
- As of December 18, 2014, a total of 28 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states.
- 26 ill people have been hospitalized. Among the 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths.
- Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant).
- Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged
- To date, 15 (83%) of the 18 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.
- At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.
- Investigators are working quickly to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.
- This investigation is rapidly evolving, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.