Public health and regulatory officials are investigating a listeria outbreak linked to deli meats that has sickened at least 10 people across three states and has been blamed for one death, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.
Of the 10 sickened, seven are from Massachusetts, two are from New York, and the person who died was from Florida. Those affected include eight women and two men, who range in age from 40 to 89 years old, according to the CDC.
The illnesses were reported from Aug. 6 through Oct. 3, and all 10 people had to be hospitalized, the CDC said.
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Nine of those sickened were interviewed by state and local public health officials about the foods they ate in the month before they became ill, and all of them reported eating Italian-style deli meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto.
They also reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations, the CDC said.
Deli meats can have listeria bacteria, which is why the CDC recommends people avoid eating deli meats, unless heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
Eating food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects adults older than 65, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, according to the CDC.
Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches, but infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn, according to health officials.
People with listeriosis typically report symptoms starting one to four weeks after eating the contaminated food, the CDC says. Some people, however, have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
If you ate deli meats and are experiencing symptoms of listeria infection, you are advised to call your doctor.
To prevent getting sick, the CDC recommends washing your hands after handling deli meats; cleaning refrigerator shelves, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other surfaces that may have come into contact with deli meats; and preventing juice from deli meats from spreading to other foods, utensils and food preparation surfaces.
Health officials also say you should keep factory-sealed, unopened packages of deli meats in the refrigerator for no longer than two weeks. Meanwhile, opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli should be kept no longer than five days in the refrigerator.
While evidence has shown that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak, an investigation is ongoing to determine if there is a specific type of deli meat or a common supplier linked to illness, the CDC said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is a part of the investigation.