Two Dead in Colorado Listeria Outbreak

Two <"">Listeria deaths in Colorado have been reported in the past two weeks, say health officials there. A total of three cases, including the two fatalities, have been reported, to date.

According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment epidemiologists, they are collaborating with Denver Public Health and Denver Environmental Health on an investigation into the three reported Denver Listeria infection cases, said the Denver Channel.

All three cases involve Hispanic/Latino people. One death involved a man in his 30s, the other, a woman in her 60s, said the Denver Channel, which noted that Colorado sees about 10 cases of Listeria poisoning—listeriosis—annually.

“Until we have more information about the specific source of this outbreak, it is important for people to follow the standard CDC guidance about Listeria. People who are at high risk for Listeria infection can decrease their risk by avoiding soft cheeses such as queso fresco and brie unless they are made with pasteurized milk, hot dogs and deli meats unless reheated to an internal temperature of 165F, refrigerated pâté or meat spreads, or refrigerated smoked seafood,” said Alicia Cronquist, an epidemiologist at the state health department, quoted the Denver Channel.

For susceptible populations, infection with the
Listeria pathogen can cause significant illnesses linked to the central nervous system, the developing fetus, and placenta. Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause Listeriosis, a potentially fatal foodborne Illness that infects about 2,500 people in the U.S., killing 500 each year.

Listeriosis symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, nausea, abdominal cramps and pain, and diarrhea. Pregnant women are 20 times likelier to be infected and Listeriosis can kill fetuses, can prompt premature births, can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can prompt neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

The CDC—U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—suggest:

• Raw food from animal sources—beef, pork, poultry, etc.—be cooked to a safe internal temperature.

• Raw vegetables should be thoroughly rinsed under running tap water prior to consumption. Uncooked meats and poultry must be kept separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.

• Unpasteurized or raw milk should be avoided as should food prepared with unpasteurized milk.

• After handling and preparing uncooked foods, wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards very thoroughly.

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