Urgent warning over 4 popular fruits after listeria outbreak hospitalises 10 and kills one | US | News
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of a listeria outbreak after one person died and another 10 are in hospital due to eating contaminated fruit.
The outbreak has already swept seven states and that number is expected to grow as cases increase.
An investigation found that fruit contaminated with listeria was being sold nationwide since May 2023 by HMC Farms – a California-based farm growing peaches, nectarines, plums and grapes.
Contaminated fruits were sold from May to November 2022 and May to November of this year.
The CDC has urged Americans to immediately throw away products that could be contaminated, and check their freezers in case they have any frozen fruit. In order to be more thorough in avoiding contamination, they are being told to clean their freezers as well.
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Listeria is a bacteria that can make people sick with listeriosis. Symptoms of the illness include headaches, stiffness and diarrhea in healthy adults.
Symptoms normally begin within two weeks of infection but could start the same day or as late as 10 weeks after.
One in five people infected with listeria are killed.
Pregnant women and those over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms due to their weakened immune systems. One pregnant patient went into early labour due to the illness
The CDC was able to detect the listeria contamination after interviewing patients about the foods they had eaten before contracting the illness. After testing samples from each patient, it was discovered they were a close genetic match to listeria.
On this occasion it is unclear how the bacteria got on the fruits, but previous outbreaks have occurred due to farmers watering crops with water that has been contaminated by animal feces.
Packaging equipment can also become contaminated with listeria, passing it along to the fruit in the process.
The majority of patients were white men with an average age of 69. Three-quarters of patients were over 65.
However, the CDC is warning that the real number of patients is “likely higher” because some people never received medical care or were tested for listeria.
HMC Farms is now recalling peaches, plums and nectarines sold during the affected time periods. These fruits are no longer on the shelves, but people could still have them in their homes.