One dead, 15 hospitalized in listeria outbreak linked to Dole packaged salads

Posted at 9:58 AM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 10:00:59-05

Connecticut and Missouri have joined the list of states affected by a listeria outbreak that has killed one person and hospitalized 15 others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The CDC said last week that salads sold under a variety of names that were packaged in a Dole facility in Springfield, Ohio, were linked to the listeria outbreak.

Three new cases have been reported since Friday, the CDC said. In addition to people sickened in Connecticut and Missouri, one new case was discovered in New York.

Five other states — Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — have seen people ill with listeria. New York has the most cases with five and Michigan, where one person died, has had four people sickened.

Reports about these infections started coming in July.

An investigation began in September, the CDC said, but the source of the infections was unknown until this month when lab tests confirmed listeria in salads collected from the Ohio facility.

The CDC is warning people not to eat salads packaged under the name Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar and President’s Choice. The salads are sold to restaurants as well. If you have one of these packaged salads in your refrigerator, look for the letter “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code. Those are the ones you want to throw away.

Last week, Dole told the CDC it has stopped all production at the Springfield facility and is pulling all packaged salads made at this facility off the market. There is no evidence that salads made at other facilities are contaminated with the bacteria, the CDC said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a recall Friday. In addition to the states where people have been hospitalized, the states also included in the voluntary recall are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three Canadian provinces are also included in the voluntary withdrawal: Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Listeria, also known by its scientific name of Listeria monocytogenes, is the bacterium that causes listeriosis, an infection that affects the gastrointestinal tract. This serious infection can cause temporary problems such as a high fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, headaches, stiffness and nausea. It can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, children and anyone with a weak immune system due to a chronic condition. Some infections are so serious they can cause death.

The CDC estimates there are 1,600 illnesses and 260 U.S. deaths per year due to listeriosis infections.