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CDC investigates deadly Listeria outbreak | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel

The CDC is investigating a listeria outbreak that began last year.

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  • One person died and 22 were hospitalized.
  • The sufferers lived in 10 different states.
  • There may be a connection to travel to Florida.

At least one person has died and 22 hospitalized in several states amid an outbreak of listeria, a foodborne illness that is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies are investigating the outbreak, which the CDC says began Jan. 24, 2021. The most recent case reported on Friday was June 21. The sick people live in 10 different states ranging from Colorado to Minnesota to Massachusetts.

Twenty of the people were living or traveling in Florida in the month before their illness, but the CDC said in a report Thursday that the significance of this detail was still under investigation.

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Such outbreaks are usually linked to a specific food item consumed by sufferers, Elliot Ryser, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State University, told on Friday.

“As to which product, we don’t really have a clue yet” in this case, Ryser said.

Common culprits are raw milk cheeses, deli meats and fresh produce. People in high-risk categories are advised to avoid these foods.

In the current outbreak, the 23 ill people ranged in age from 1 to 92, according to the CDC. One death has been reported in Illinois. Five of the patients were pregnant and one fetus was lost.

“The actual number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to states with known illnesses,” the CDC report said. “Also, recent illnesses may not yet be reported because it usually takes three to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.”

Millions of people fall ill with foodborne illnesses each year in the United States, but only about 1,600 cases of listeria are confirmed each year, according to the CDC. About 260 of them are usually fatal.

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Symptoms of listeria range from mild and flu-like to fever, stiff neck, confusion, and seizures. The CDC advises anyone at high risk to contact their healthcare provider if they have symptoms.

Ryser said the outbreak was not a concern for most people.

“If you’re normal and healthy, listeria really isn’t a major health concern,” he said. “People are exposed to it probably on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in very small numbers.”

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