Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Listeria Lurking in North Carolina

There seems to be another small outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes brewing in North Carolina, but the state health authorities haven't yet put their finger on its source.

The State's Department of Health and Human Services warned yesterday that pregnant women should avoid consuming soft cheeses, processed meats (deli meats and hot dogs) and prepared salads. Listeria monocytogenes, which usually causes only a mild illness, can be deadly to pregnant women and their babies. So far, two pregnant women, all Latina, have miscarried after becoming infected with L. monocytogenes, and a fourth delivered prematurely. One additional miscarriage is being investigated to determine if it was also due to L. monocytogenes.

All of the illnesses occurred during a very short period of time, but different strains of L. monocytogenes were involved, suggesting that more than one type of food might have been contaminated. Alternatively, one food might possibly contain more than a single strain of L. monocytogenes - especially if that food is a cheese made from raw milk.

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