CDC: 1 Death In Michigan In Listeria Outbreak Linked To Deli Meats, Cheeses

April 24, 2019 - 2:41 pm
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(WWJ) The U.S. Center for Disease Control and several states, including Michigan, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria infections linked to deli-sliced meats and cheeses.

The CDC said that, as of one week ago, a total of eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacterium, have been reported across four states. All eight of those people were hospitalized, according to the CDC, and one death has been reported in Michigan.

Lynn Sutfin, with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said this is something the CDC has been looking into since November of 2016.

"We've had two different cases involved in this outbreak (in Michigan); one back in 2017 and one more recently in 2019," she said. "Unfortunately, the gentleman in 2019 in Southeast Michigan who contracted the Listeria infection has passed away."

No details about the man who died have been released, including his hometown, age, or where he or she may have bought the affected meat or cheese. 

The CDC said laboratory evidence indicates that meats and cheeses sliced at deli counters might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which could make people sick. The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from meat sliced at a deli and from deli counters in multiple stores; and, so far, no specific stores or suppliers have been pinpointed.

In interviews, officials said ill people report eating different types and brands of products purchased from and sliced at deli counters in many different retail locations.

"They have not been able to narrow down a specific brand or a location," Sutfin said.

The CDC is now urging all stores with delis to clean and sanitize the slicers and other areas where products are prepared. 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? 

As an investigation continues, the CDC is NOT advising that consumers to avoid eating products prepared at delis, or that retailers stop selling deli-sliced products.

However, people who are at higher risk for Listeria infection -- including pregnant women, people age 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems -- should avoid eating lunch meats, cold cuts or other deli meats unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving. 

Everyone is urged to take steps to prevent Listeria infection:

  • Don’t let juice from lunch meat and hot dog packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
  • Wash hands after handling deli meats, lunch meats, deli cheeses, and hot dogs.
  • Store opened packages of meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are monitoring the outbreak.  

The CDC said it will update the advice to consumers and retailers if more information comes available, such as a supplier or type of deli product linked to illness.

Learn more about Listeria illness, including signs and symptoms, at this link.  A map of reported cases, that will continue to be updated, can be found here.