Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.
Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.
The CDC, several states, and federal partners (USDA/FSIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. This investigation is ongoing and has not identified a specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain as the source of infections. However, The Public Health Agency of Canada is also investigating a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in several Canadian provinces linked to cooked diced chicken.
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) shows that the type of Listeria making people sick in Canada is closely related genetically to the Listeria making people sick in the United States. 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 August 23, 2019, a total of 24 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes has been reported from 13 states. Ill people range in age from 35 to 92 years, with a median age of 72. Sixty-three percent of ill people are female. Of 23 ill people with information available, 22 hospitalizations have been reported. Two deaths have been reported.
As of August 23 2019, there have been seven confirmed cases of Listeria monocytogenes illness in three provinces: British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1) and Ontario (5). Individuals became sick between November 2017 and June 2019. Six individuals have been hospitalized. Individuals who became ill are between 51 and 97 years of age. The majority of cases (86%) are female.
According to Health authorities in Canada, based on the investigation findings to date, Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Rosemount cooked diced chicken was supplied to institutions (including cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes) where many of the individuals who became sick resided, or visited, before becoming ill. That product has now been recalled.
In the United States, Tip Top Poultry, Inc., a Rockmart, Ga. establishment, has recalled approximately 135,810 pounds of fully cooked poultry products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.
The frozen, diced, and mechanically separated ready to eat chicken was produced on January 21, 2019 and display “PACK DATE 01/21/19” on the labels. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “P-17453” inside the USDA mark of inspection or on the case. These items were shipped to hotels, restaurants, and institutions nationwide.
The problem was discovered on August 17, 2019, when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notified FSIS that a sample of product produced by Tip Top Poultry, Inc. confirmed positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.