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Local Health Advisory: Listeria in Cheeses

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Last week the Maryland State Public Health Laboratory identified Listeria preliminarily determined to be Listeria monocytogenes from retail cheeses produced by Roos Foods out of Kenton, Delaware. Roos Foods produces Latin-style cheeses under several product labels (Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina, La Purisima, Crema Nica) and distributes its products to VA, MD and DC. Food safety inspectors from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have also reported the presence of this bacterium in a sample of cheese collected from a Virginia retail location. As a measure of precaution District food safety officials are pulling the products from shelves at retail locations.

As of February 21, 2014, no cases of Listeria associated with this cheese have been reported to the DC Department of Health, but we would like clinicians to be aware of this potential health risk. Listeriosis associated with contaminated food can cause a wide spectrum of clinical symptoms ranging from febrile gastroenteritis to potentially fatal bacteremia and meningitis in higher risk groups such as older adults and persons with certain medical conditions1. Pregnant women infected with this bacterium frequently experience a mild influenza-like illness or an asymptomatic infection1. Pregnancy-associated listeriosis can result in fetal loss, preterm delivery, invasive neonatal infection, and infant death1. Anyone who purchased the product should be advised not consume it and to discard any remaining portions.

Listeriosis is a reportable disease in DC. Healthcare providers are required to report cases of Listeriosis to the DC Department of Health, Division of Epidemiology– Disease Surveillance and Investigation (DE-DSI) by fax at (202) 442-8060. If you have any questions, please contact us at (202) 442-8141.


                                   Some Listeria facts:

Listeria can be found in:

  • Ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs
  • Refrigerated pates or meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products
  • Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, such as queso fresca, brie, feta, camembert
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Raw sprouts

Incubation period: 3-70 days

Symptoms: Fever, stiff neck, confusion, weakness, vomiting, sometimes preceded by diarrhea

Duration of illness: Days to weeks

Who’s at risk:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Organ transplant patients who are taking drugs to prevent them from rejecting the organ
  • People with certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, end-stage renal disease, liver disease, alcoholism, diabetes

Read more at NBC News.


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