A multi-state outbreak of Listeria infections has been linked to Hispanic-style fresh soft cheeses, like queso fresco, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has not yet identified a specific type or brand of cheese, so no recalls have been announced.
As of February 11, 2021, at least 7 people have been hospitalized after being infected with the outbreak strain of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.
The outbreak has spread to at least 4 states. The case count by state is as follows: Connecticut (1), Maryland (4), New York (1), and Virginia (1).
The illnesses started on dates ranging from October 20, 2020 through January 22, 2021, but the true number of sick people is likely higher than the number reported, “and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” according to the CDC investigation report.
Furthermore, recent illnesses may not have been reported yet because it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
State officials are currently testing samples of Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheese from stores where sick people reported buying cheeses from.
In the meantime, the CDC is warning people at high risk for severe Listeria illness to not eat Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses (like queso fresco).
The symptoms of severe Listeria illness may include fever, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, convulsions, and pregnancy complications, including a miscarriage or stillbirth.