The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a seventh death among the 32 illnesses reported in the multi-state Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to caramel apples. According to the CDC, Listeriosis contributed to at least three of the deaths reported to date. Since the last case count update, one additional death was reported. It is unclear whether Listeria infection contributed to this death.
On Jan. 6 Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield, Calif., recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples because environmental testing revealed contamination with Listeria monocytogenes at the firm’s apple-packing facility. On Jan. 8, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory analyses showed that these Listeria isolates were indistinguishable from outbreak strains by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Listeria isolates from whole apples produced by Bidart Bros., collected along the distribution chain, were also indistinguishable from outbreak strains by PFGE, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC says consumers should not eat any recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples produced by Bidart Bros., and retailers should not sell or serve them. Consumers who are buying, or have recently bought, Granny Smith or Gala apples can ask their retailers if the apples came from Bidart Bros. If unable to determine whether the apples were supplied by Bidart Bros., consumers should throw the products away. Consumers are also advised not to eat commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that were recalled or made with Bidart Bros. apples, and retailers should not sell or serve them.
Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies each announced a recall of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples after hearing from Bidart Bros. that there may be a connection between Bidart Bros. apples and this Listeriosis outbreak. As of Jan. 10, 2015, a total of 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes had been reported from 11 states. Thirty-one individuals have been hospitalized, and seven deaths have been reported.
Ten illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant), with one illness resulting in a fetal loss. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years. To date, 25 of the 28 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill. The Public Health Agency of Canada has also identified two cases of Listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE patterns as seen in the U.S. outbreak. The agency is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses. This investigation is rapidly evolving, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.
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