Outbreak of Listeria infections linked to meats

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to deli meats.

Latest Outbreak Information
 
  • 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from Florida, Massachusetts, and New York.
    • All 10 ill people were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Florida.
  • Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak.
    • In interviews with 9 ill people, all reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.
  • A specific type of deli meat and common supplier have not yet been identified.
Advice to People at Higher Risk for Listeria Infection

You are at higher risk for getting sick with Listeria if you are pregnant, aged 65 years or older, or have a weakened immune system. If you are not in these groups, you are unlikely to get sick from Listeria.

Deli meats, also called lunch meat or cold cuts, can have Listeria bacteria.

Avoid eating deli meats, unless heated to an internal temperature of 165?F or until steaming hot just before serving.

Take additional steps to prevent getting sick:

  • Clean
    • Wash your hands after handling deli meats.
    • Clean refrigerator shelves, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other surfaces that may have come into contact with deli meats. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
  • Separate
    • Don’t let juice from deli meats get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
  • Chill
    • Keep factory-sealed, unopened packages of deli meats in the refrigerator for no longer than 2 weeks.
    • Keep opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli in the refrigerator for no longer than 5 days.

Call your healthcare provider if you ate deli meats and are experiencing symptoms of Listeria infection.

Advice to Retailers
 
Follow USDA-FSIS best practicesexternal icon for controlling Listeria contamination in deli areas.
Symptoms of Listeria Infection
  • Listeriosis can cause different symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected.
    • Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
    • People who are not pregnant may experience symptoms that include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
  • People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
  • For more information, see Symptoms of Listeria Infection.
Investigation Details

October 23, 2020

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

As of October 22, 2020, a total of 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from three states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Listeria samples from ill people were collected from August 6, 2020, to October 3, 2020. Ill people range in age from 40 to 89 years, with a median age of 81 years. Eighty percent of ill people are female. All 10 ill people were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Florida.

Investigation of the Outbreak

Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak.

State and local public health officials interviewed ill people about the foods they ate in the month before they became ill. Of the nine people interviewed, all reported eating Italian-style deli meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.

Listeria bacteria can spread easily to other foods and surfaces. The bacteria in a contaminated deli product may spread to other deli meats and cheeses in shared display cases or equipment at deli counters.  A traceback investigation is ongoing to determine if there is a specific type of deli meat or a common supplier linked to illness.

People who are higher risk of getting sick from Listeria should avoid eating deli meats, unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or until steaming hot just before serving.

This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.