Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Updating CDC/PHAC Listeria Investigation Linked To Caramel Apples

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Credit CDC

 

# 9520

 

It’s been 11 days since I last updated this story (see CDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak Of Listeriosis Linked To Caramel Apples), and in that time the CDC has identified 4 more cases, spread to 1 new state (Nevada), and an additional death linked due to listeria food poisoning, linked to commercially sold caramel apples.

 

Additionally, Canada’s PHAC is investigating two possible cases as well (Dec 29th link), stating:

The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified two cases of illnesses with the same genetic fingerprint as seen in the US investigation. There is one case in Ontario, and one case in Manitoba. The status of these individuals is not known at this time.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses. At this time, it is not known whether these illnesses are linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples imported from the US.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a food recall warning for Happy Apples caramel apples and is continuing to work closely with U.S. officials to determine if other potentially affected product may have been distributed in Canada. If further products are identified, the Agency will inform the public and ensure that they are promptly removed from the marketplace.

 

Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, and is most commonly seen in the form of food poisoning.  Each year the CDC estimates Listeriosis causes an average of 1600 illnesses, and 28 deaths in the United States.

 

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.

 

Excerpts from the latest update from the CDC below, but follow the link for full details:

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Commercially Produced, Prepackaged Caramel Apples

Posted December 31, 2014 11:00 AM ET

Highlights
  • Read the Advice to Consumers and Retailers>>
  • 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.
    • Three voluntary recalls of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples have been announced by Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies after hearing from Bidart Brothers, an apple supplier, that there may be a connection between Bidart Brothers apples and this listeriosis outbreak.
    • Investigators are continuing to work to identify if any other brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be linked to illnesses.
    • CDC continues to recommend 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.
  • As of December 30, 2014, a total of 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 11 states.
    • Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized and six deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths and it is unclear whether it contributed to an additional two deaths. The sixth death was unrelated to listeriosis.
    • Ten illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant), with one illness resulting in a fetal loss.
    • Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.
    • To date, 23 (88%) of the 26 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.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified 2 cases of listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE patterns as seen in the US outbreak.
    • PHAC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses.
  • This investigation is rapidly evolving, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.

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