As of December 17, 2019, a total of seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from five states.
Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from April 10, 2017, to November 12, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 82 years, with a median age of 75. Seventy-one percent of ill people are male. Of six ill people with information available, four hospitalizations have been reported. One death has been reported from Texas. One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with Listeria while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that bulk hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are a likely source of this outbreak.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the month before they became ill. Of the five people for whom information was available, four (80%) reported eating products containing eggs. Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants.
In the PulseNet database, CDC noted two environmental samples from February 2019 that are closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in this outbreak. FDA reports that these samples were taken during a routine inspection of the Almark Foods facility. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods.
Investigators are continuing to collect records from grocery stores and restaurants where ill people reported eating hard-boiled eggs. Investigations are ongoing to determine and document the distribution and production chain, as well as the source of hard-boiled eggs to the locations reported by ill people.
CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators.
The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease caused by the ingestion of Listeria bacteria is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract.
Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream; it invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected with Listeria, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.
Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.
Symptoms of Listeria include:
· Muscle ache
· Nausea or diarrhea
If the infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms include:
· Stiff neck
· Loss of balance
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $700 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as deli meat, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.