The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a multi-state listeria outbreak linked to fresh and soft cheeses such as queso fresco, queso blanco and queso panela.
According to the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and state officials, these cheeses are a likely source of an outbreak that put seven people in the hospital in Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Virginia.
“People who are not at higher risk of severe illness should make sure the Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses (like queso fresco) they eat have labels that say, ‘Made with pasteurized milk,’” the CDC said in a news release Friday.
People at higher risk for severe listeria illness, such as pregnant people or those over 65 years of age, need to avoid these cheese products, the CDC said.
“Don’t eat any Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses (like queso fresco, queso blanco, and queso panela), until we identify a specific type or brand that is making people sick,” the agency said.
Listeria can cause common food poisoning symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.
“Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn,” the CDC said.
“People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches,” the CDC said.
“Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have any symptoms of severe Listeria illness after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.”