A listeria outbreak has killed one person in Florida and hit New York and Massachusetts

David J. Neal
·2 min read

The current foodborne illness outbreak is listeria, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and has killed one person in Florida.

If more infections are coming falls outside the CDC’s current knowledge. Here’s what Friday’s update from the CDC says the agency does know:

How many cases are there and where are they? This is either a small outbreak or an outbreak tracked early, as there have been 10 cases so far — seven in Massachusetts, two in New York and one in Florida. All required hospitalization.

What’s the food cause? The CDC says after interviewing nine ill people, “all reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.”

But a single store, brand or manufacturer hasn’t been identified.

How common is death from listeria? The CDC estimates about 1,600 Americans get listeria each year and about 260 of them die, a 16.25% mortality rate.

Who’s the most vulnerable to listeria? Anyone can get listeria, but it usually hits pregnant women, newborn babies, senior citizens and people with damaged immune systems. It can cause stillbirths and miscarriages. Most people experience headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, fever and balance problems.

How do you avoid listeria? Refrigerate lunch meats, hot dogs or cut melon as soon as possible. Factory-sealed packs of cold cuts or hot dogs shouldn’t get kept in the refrigerator more than two weeks. Once the meats are open or the melon cut, eat them inside of five days.

“Don’t let juice from hot dog and lunch meat packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces,” the CDC recommends. “Wash hands after handling hot dogs, lunch meats, and deli meats.”

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