Public Health Officials Investigating Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Soft Cheeses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis). Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.

Five rare DNA fingerprints of Listeria are included in this investigation. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Listeria strains with the five rare DNA fingerprints are closely related genetically.

Twenty-four people infected with one of the closely related Listeria strains have been reported from nine states since Aug. 8, 2010. Twenty-one people were hospitalized. Five illnesses were pregnancy-related; one resulted in a fetal loss. One death was reported from Ohio. Additional illnesses are under investigation.

The investigation has not conclusively identified the source of this outbreak, but most ill people interviewed reported eating soft cheese before becoming ill. This investigation is ongoing. Eighteen (82%) of the 22 ill people with available information reported eating soft cheeses in the month before becoming ill. Four (57%) of seven ill people who specified a brand of cheese reported brands distributed by Karoun Dairies. No other brand of cheese was reported more than once.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Karoun Dairies, Inc. voluntarily recalled and ceased production of certain cheeses that the company distributes due to possible contamination with Listeria. Products were sold under the following brands: Karoun, Arz, Gopi, Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, and Yanni. Products are vacuum packed, in jars or in pails. Weights vary from 5 ounces to 30 pounds.

Consumers should not eat, restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell recalled cheeses. These products may be contaminated with Listeria and may make people sick.

Source: CDC