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CDC: 1 dead, 7 others sickened by listeria traced to cheese

By Greg Botelho and Miriam Falco, CNN
updated 9:57 PM EST, Fri February 21, 2014
The listeria bacterium can cause serious illness, with the CDC estimating 260 U.S. deaths annually tied to the infection.
The listeria bacterium can cause serious illness, with the CDC estimating 260 U.S. deaths annually tied to the infection.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 8 people got sick last summer, fall with listeria in Maryland, California
  • 3 were adults, 3 were babies and 2 were new mothers, the CDC says
  • Authorities tie the illnesses to "Hispanic-style cheese"

(CNN) -- At least eight people came down with listeria -- and one of them died -- after, authorities believe, eating "Hispanic-style cheese."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported the outbreak, which has affected people only of Hispanic descent and living in California or Maryland.

Three babies were among those infected, while the other five were adults, including two women who had recently given birth.

The illnesses date back to between August 1 and November 27, 2013.

Seven cases -- all in Maryland -- ended up being hospitalized, with the lone death occurring in sole California case, according to the CDC. The age of the person who died was not given.

Earlier this month, health inspectors in Virginia found listeria monocytogenes bacteria in a sample of Cuajada en Terron, or fresh cheese curd, on sale in clear, unlabeled plastic bags at a Mega Mart in Manassas. This was traced to Roos Foods, a company based in Kenton, Delaware. Virginia authorities said at that time there were no known sicknesses in the state tied to that cheese.

What you need to know about listeria

A few days later, Maryland authorities' tests of pre-packaged cheese products produced by Roos Foods also came back positive for listeria. That state's health and mental hygiene department warned people not to buy or consume any products from that company sold under brand names Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina and La Purisima Crema Nica.

Older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to listeriosis, according to the CDC.

It typically spreads through the consumption of contaminated foods such as uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and cooked and processed foods such as certain soft cheeses, ready-to-eat meats and smoked seafoods. Newborns can develop it if their mothers ate such tainted foods while pregnant.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, according to the CDC. They might also have headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.

The public health agency says that about 1,600 people fall ill and 260 die each year in the United States from this ailment.

A call placed Friday by CNN to Roos Foods wasn't immediately returned. According to its website, Roos is "a family-owned business ... dedicated to the production of a wide variety of dairy products of Latin origin."

How to protect yourself from food poisoning

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