It has hit six US states, infecting 16 people and killing one of them, officials said.

Cold meat products are seen in a trolley after they were removed from the shelves
Cold meat products are seen in a trolley after they were removed from the shelves (Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters)

A recent bacterial infection linked to deli meats and cheese has hospitalised 16 people and caused the death of one in the United States, health officials have warned. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement that between April 2021 and September 2022, there were seven infections in New York, three in Maryland (one of which died), one in New Jersey, two in Massachusetts, two in Illinois and one in California. 

Five of the New Yorkers who contracted the disease said they purchased deli meat from a NetCost Market location, a supermarket where the bacteria was first discovered in October 2021. 

However, authorities think additional delis may also be connected to the current outbreak.

Here’s all you need to know about the deadly infection:

What is Listeriosis?

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause the deadly infection listeriosis. Ingesting contaminated food can cause people to contract the infection. Pregnant women, neonates, older persons, and those with compromised immune systems are the disease's main targets. 

Pregnant women typically only experience a minor case of listeriosis, but the foetus or newborn baby has serious illness as a result. 

Some individuals with Listeria infections experience severe infections of the bloodstream (producing sepsis) or brain, most frequently in adults 65 years of age and older and individuals with compromised immune systems (causing meningitis or encephalitis). 

Bones, joints, and locations in the chest and abdomen are just a few of the bodily components that listeria infections might occasionally affect.

What are the symptoms?

Similar to other food-borne pathogens, Listeria can cause fever and diarrhoea, although this particular Listeria infection is rarely diagnosed. 

Symptoms of the infection include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.

Findings

According to epidemiological and analytical data, Listeria-contaminated meat and cheese at deli counters is making people sick. 

As some of those who go sick in the outbreak did not buy at a NetCost Market, investigators don't believe delis are the sole place where infections are spreading. 

Listeria was most likely introduced into delis in various states through contaminated food.

How do people get infected?

Listeria is caused by cheeses and deli meats, such as cold cuts, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pâtés. Listeria can easily spread from hands, surfaces, and deli slicers to food. Once it enters the deli, the tough bacteria listeria can be challenging to completely eradicate. It can endure and even flourish in the refrigerator's frigid conditions.

How to prevent it?

Pregnant, aged 65 or older, are at a higher risk to contract the infection or people who have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments. 

High risk people should not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter, unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F, according to the CDC.

Source: TRT World