At least 2 people in Rhode Island developed infections from Listeria monocytogenes, according to an alert posted by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The alert did not include details about the 2 victims, but officials specifically wanted pregnant women not to eat Hispanic-style soft cheeses that are made with unpasteurized raw milk.
According to the health alert:
Queso fresco, queso blanco, panela, and asadero-style cheeses are only considered safe when they are marked with a professional label stating that they are ‘pasteurized’ or ‘made from pasteurized milk.”
Homemade queso fresco is also sometimes made with raw milk. The problem is that pregnant women are significantly more likely to develop infections with Listeria compared to other healthy adults.
Pregnant women may experience mild flu-like symptoms, or they may not feel sick at all — but the infection can still severely affect their unborn babies. Pregnant women with listeriosis frequently suffer a miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, or infection of a newborn baby.
Anyone who has eaten soft cheese recently and developed symptoms of Listeria should seek emergency medical attention. These symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and sometimes diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems.