The CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) reported that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections.
As of October 22, 2020, a total of 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from three states – New York, Massachusetts and Florida.
Listeria samples from ill people were collected from August 6, 2020, to October 3, 2020. Ill people range in age from 40 to 89 years, with a median age of 81 years. Eighty percent of ill people are female. All 10 ill people were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Florida.
Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak.
State and local public health officials interviewed ill people about the foods they ate in the month before they became ill. Of the nine people interviewed, all reported eating Italian-style deli meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.
Listeria bacteria can spread easily to other foods and surfaces. The bacteria in a contaminated deli product may spread to other deli meats and cheeses in shared display cases or equipment at deli counters. A traceback investigation is ongoing to determine if there is a specific type of deli meat or a common supplier linked to illness.
People who are higher risk of getting sick from Listeria should avoid eating deli meats, unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
Symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes usually begin one to four weeks after eating the contaminated food. However, those who become ill have reported symptoms as early as one to seventy days after consuming the tainted food.