Onondaga County health officials investigate possible link to three cases.
Friday, July 08, 2005
By James T. Mulder
The Onondaga County Health Department is investigating whether three residents with a rare bacterial infection ate food that was recalled late last month because of possible contamination.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced June 28 a recall of Golden Taste Tuna Deluxe, Scallion Tuna Deluxe and White Fish Salad because they may contain listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause listeriosis, a rare and potentially fatal infection.
Three unrelated county residents – women ages 48, 70 and 77 – have been hospitalized for treatment of the infection after becoming ill between June 26 and Saturday.
The food, distributed to stores in New York and New Jersey, was recalled by Golden Taste Inc. of Spring Valley, in Rockland County.
Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the county’s health commissioner, said there’s no known link between the recalled food product and the local outbreak. “We are looking into this as one possible lead,” she said.
Listeriosis is caused by eating contaminated foods such as meat, dairy products or raw vegetables. The infection is treated with antibiotics. It can often be prevented by thoroughly washing vegetables, thoroughly cooking meat and avoiding unpasteurized milk. Pregnant women, babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck and confusion. Anyone with symp-
toms, particularly pregnant women, should contact their doctor immediately, Morrow said.
Health Department investigators have not found any evidence the three women ate any of the same food items or ate in the same place, Morrow said. Lab tests are being conducted to determine if they have the same or different strains of the infection.
The recalled products include 5-pound, 7.5-ounce and 3.5-ounce plastic containers of Golden Taste brand Tuna Deluxe coded 7/24/05 and 8/1/05; Scallion Tuna Deluxe coded 7/5/05 and 7/12/05; and White Fish coded 7/14/05.
The contamination was discovered after samples taken by inspectors revealed the presence of the organism that can cause the infection. Consumers who purchased the products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
A 75-year-old Liverpool woman died of listeriosis in 1998. She was one of 16 people who died in a multistate outbreak linked to contaminated hot dogs and deli meats.