The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a notice about a recent listeria outbreak that has been connected to deli meats and cheese.
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the center published an investigation notice that said listeria has been spreading among cheeses and deli meats such as cold cuts, lunch meats and hot dogs.
The CDC’s website states that as of Nov. 9, 16 people have been infected with the outbreak in six different states: California, Illinois, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Thirteen people have been hospitalized.
“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” the website for the government agency said.
So far, the CDC the listeria outbreak has been linked to meats and cheeses purchased from the deli counter. Investigators said they have not been able to determine a single source of the outbreak because listeria can remain in display cases and on equipment for a long period of time.
According to the report, the bacteria can easily attach itself to deli countertops, slicers and other nearby services.
The CDC is currently working to find the exact foods or delis that have been contaminated by the strain.
Public health and regulatory officials in multiple states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also currently collecting data to stop the outbreak.
“Listeria is a hardy germ that can be difficult to fully remove once it is in the deli,” the CDC said. “It can survive and grow at cold temperatures in the refrigerator.”
Listeria is eliminated when warming food to a certain temperature.
Shoppers who have purchased meat or cheese from any deli counter should not eat it unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F or steaming hot, the CDC advised.
The CDC also suggested cleaning containers, surfaces, refrigerators and any other items that might have come into contact with deli meat or cheese.
The center said those who are suffering from symptoms of listeria illness should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Some possible symptoms are a headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, convulsions, fever and muscle aches.
People who are pregnant might experience a fever, fatigue and muscle aches. More severe cases can cause pregnancy loss and premature birth as well as serious illness or death in newborns.
Symptoms typically arrive two weeks after the contaminated food is consumed, however, it can start the day of or as late as 10 weeks after.
Those who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have weakened immune systems are at a high risk for a severe case of listeria, which can lead to hospitalization and death, according to the CDC.
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