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Listeria Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 3:43 PM EDT, Sun June 8, 2014

(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about listeriosis, a serious infection generally caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

2001 - Listeriosis (infection with L. monocytogenes) is added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of nationally notifiable diseases.

General Information:
Approximately 1,600 cases of listeriosis are reported in the United States every year, with 260 resulting in death, according to the CDC.

Typically, Listeriosis affects older adults, pregnant women, infants, and adults with compromised immune systems.

Pregnant women are approximately 10 times more likely to get listeriosis. Roughly 14 percent of cases of listeriosis occur during pregnancy.

Listeria is named after Dr. Joseph Lister, an English surgeon who introduced sterilization into surgery. The mouthwash Listerine is also named after Dr. Lister.

Symptoms and Treatment:
Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, and sometimes diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. Other symptoms are headache, confusion, and convulsions.

Almost everyone diagnosed with listeriosis has an infection that has spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.

Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.

Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Prevention:
General recommendations:
Thoroughly cook meat.
Clean raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods.
Do not drink unpasteurized milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
Wash hands, utensils, and countertops after handling uncooked foods.

Recommendations for persons at high risk:
Do not eat hot dogs, cold cuts, other deli meats, or fermented or dry sausages unless they are cooked properly.
Do not eat refrigerated meat spreads and pâtés.
Do not eat soft cheese unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.
Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is in a cooked dish or it is canned.

Timeline of selected U.S. cases:
Turkey Deli Meat - 2002
Multistate outbreak of L. monocytogenes associated with turkey deli meat.

September 18, 2002 - The CDC announces that it is investigating an outbreak of listeriosis infections.

October 12, 2002 - Pilgrim's Pride Foods, in Franconia, Pennsylvania, recalls 27.4 million lbs. of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products produced since May 1, 2002. In total, 54 illnesses, eight deaths, and three fetal deaths are reported in nine states.

Cantaloupes - 2011
Multistate outbreak of Listeria associated with cantaloupes.
All of the tainted cantaloupes were grown at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado. They were shipped to 17 states. Cases of listeriosis have been reported in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Health officials call it the deadliest food outbreak in the United States in nearly 100 years, and the third-deadliest outbreak in U.S. history.

September 12, 2011 - The outbreak is announced by the CDC. A total of 15 persons infected with the outbreak have been reported from four states. All illnesses started on or after August 15, 2011.

September 14, 2011 - The FDA issues a press release to announce that Jensen Farms has issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes after being linked to a multistate outbreak of listeriosis. In total, 147 illnesses and 33 deaths are reported in 28 states.

September 26, 2013 - Eric and Ryan Jensen, brothers who owned Jensen Farms, are taken into custody and charged with introducing tainted cantaloupe into interstate commerce.

October 22, 2013 -The Jensen brothers plead guilty to misdemeanor charges.

January 28, 2014 - The Jensen brothers are sentenced to five years' probation, including six months in home detention, for their role in a 2011 listeriosis outbreak.

Ricotta Cheese - 2012
September 10, 2012 - Multistate outbreak of listeriosis associated with Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese. Forever Cheese, Inc., initiates a voluntary recall of Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese with a single lot number. Four days later, Forever Cheese, Inc., expands the recall and removes all cheese related to the Italian exporter from the market.

In total, 22 illnesses and four deaths are reported in 13 states and the District of Columbia from the outbreak.

Cheese - 2013
July 3, 2013 - Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company in Wisconsin recalls three types of cheeses made on or before July 1 due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

July 5, 2013 - A joint investigation by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicates that cheese made by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company of Wisconsin is the likely source of this outbreak.

In total, six illnesses and one death are reported in five states.

"Hispanic-style cheeses" - 2013
February 21, 2014-April 18, 2014 - The CDC reports on an outbreak that occurred between August and November 2013. In total, seven people fall sick in Maryland and one person dies in California

February 23, 2014-March 1, 2014 - Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware, recalls a variety of Amigo, Mexicana and Santa Rosa De Lima cheeses.

March 11, 2014 - The FDA suspends the food facility registration of Roos Foods.

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