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Listeriosis Cases Linked to Ricotta Salata Cheese

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 22 persons were infected with Listeria monocytogenes in a food poisoning outbreak linked to imported Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese imported from Italy, and distributed by Forever Cheese Inc., NY. Four deaths were reported. Public health officials determined that at least 2 of the 4 deaths were related to Listeria. One fetal loss was reported. Available illness onset dates ranged from March 28, 2012 to October 6, 2012.

Listeria and Listeriosis

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium capable of causing a serious and life-threatening infection known as listeriosis. Listeriosis is considered a foodborne illness. Newborns, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and those individuals with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for developing listeriosis and suffering its complications. Although less common, individuals not belonging to one of these high risk groups can still contract listeriosis.

Outbreak Facts

The number of confirmed outbreak cases reported by state (including the District of Columbia) was as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (1).

The CDC also reported that:

  • Twenty of those sickened in the outbreak required hospitalization.
  • Nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of these illnesses were diagnosed in newborns.
  • The other 13 ill persons ranged in age from 30 years to 87 years, with a median age of 77 years
  • .

Ricotta Salata Cheese Recalled Amid Listeria Contamination Concerns

Distributor, Forever Cheese issued a recall for its cheese on September 10, 2012, and expanded the recall on September 14, 2012. For lot and production codes see Cheese Recall, Cheese Recall Expanded,and Forever Cheese Press Release.

During the outbreak investigation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated the outbreak strain of Listeria from a sample of uncut Frescolina Marte brand Ricotta Salata cheese, distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. Other soft cheeses that had already been cut and repackaged also tested positive for the outbreak strain of Listeria.

Listeria Symptoms and Complications

Listeriosis symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If the Listeria infection spreads to the central nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions. Pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms. Your doctor may use the terms Listeria sepsis, indicating that the bacteria have entered the blood stream; or meningoencephalitis or meningitis, indicating that the bacteria have entered the central nervous system causing inflammation of the brain and its membranes and spinal tissue. Additional complications may include, but are not limited to premature delivery, miscarriage or stillbirth, endocarditis, abscess formation, pneumonia, and eye and or joint inflammation.

The CDC cautions that persons in the high-risk category, including older adults, those with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, experiencing flu-like symptoms within two months of eating a Listeria contaminated food, seek medical care. Let your physician or health care provider know that you have eaten the recalled melons or any other contaminated food. This is vital to your health since you can develop listeriosis for up to two months after eating a food contaminated with Listeria.

Diagnosis of Listeria Infection

Listeriosis is typically diagnosed through a blood or spinal fluid test to look for, or isolate the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes. In pregnant women, a sample of amniotic fluid may also be tested.

What You Can Do If You Suspect a Listeria Infection

If you suspect that you may have contracted Listeria or are experiencing Listeria symptoms, contact your healthcare professional. He or she can order the necessary lab work to confirm a Listeria infection. Let your doctor know if you have either consumed or handled a product that was recalled for potential Listeria contamination

Contact Lawyer Eric Weinberg for a Listeria Lawsuit Evaluation

If you or a loved one are diagnosed with listeriosis, are awaiting medical confirmation of infection, or have a question regarding your legal rights, you can request a free Listeria lawsuit case evaluation by calling The Weinberg Law Firm toll free at 1-877-934-6274. Our phones are answered 24/7.

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