FDA Reports Multi-State Outbreak of Listeriosis From Cheese

February 26, 2014

Of the 8 cases of listeriosis that have been confirmed in this latest outbreak, 5 of the cases were related to pregnancy, underscoring the importance of food safety in pregnant women.

The FDA is warning consumers not to eat any of the following brands of cheese manufactured or repackaged by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware: Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima, and Anita. Roos Foods has voluntarily recalled all lots and all types of cheese distributed under these brands. These products were distributed through retail stores in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis and the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in Hispanic-style cheese products made by Roos Foods and sold in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. 

In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies, though the mother herself rarely becomes
seriously ill.

The strain of L monocytogenes identified was the same strain of the bacteria that has caused 8 cases of listeriosis in two states. The CDC reports that a total of 8 persons infected with the outbreak strain of L monocytogenes have been reported from California (1) and Maryland (7).

Among the 8 cases investigated, the dates of diagnosis ranged from August 1, 2013, to November 27, 2013. Seven of the eight ill persons were hospitalized. Five of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; two of these were diagnosed in two mother–newborn pairs, and one in only the newborn. The three other illnesses occurred among adults. One death was reported in California. All ill persons were reported to be of Hispanic ethnicity. According to the CDC, the investigation into the source of these illnesses is ongoing.

Symptoms of Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a rare and serious illness caused by eating food contaminated with L monocytogenes. Persons in a higher-risk category, including pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly, who experience fever after eating food contaminated with the bacteria should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the potentially contaminated cheese, the FDA advises.

The most common symptoms of listeriosis are fever and muscle aches that are sometimes preceded by diarrhea of other GI symptoms. Pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and the elderly are considered at high risk for this food-born infection.

Pregnant women typically experience fever and other nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and generalized aches. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies, though the mother herself rarely becomes seriously ill.