Outbreak of Listeria Infections Linked to Deli Meats
Posted December 4, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET
CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to deli meats.
- Since the last update on October 23, 2020, one ill person was added to this investigation.
- Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak.
- In interviews with 10 ill people, all reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.
- Investigators are working to identify a specific type of deli meat or a common supplier.
- Deli meats, also called lunch meat or cold cuts, can have Listeria bacteria. Always follow food safety steps to prevent getting sick from Listeria in deli meats, even when there are no ongoing outbreaks
You are at higher risk for getting sick with Listeria if you are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, alcoholism, and HIV. Treatments that make it more difficult for the body to fight off illness, such as steroids and chemotherapy, also can increase the chance of Listeria infection. If you are not in these groups, you are unlikely to get sick from Listeria.
Always take these actions, even when there are no ongoing outbreaks:
- Avoid eating deli meats, unless heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
- Call your healthcare provider if you ate deli meats and are experiencing symptoms of Listeria infection.
Always follow these food safety steps when handling deli meats:
- Wash your hands after handling deli meats.
- Clean refrigerator shelves, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other surfaces that may have come into contact with deli meats. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
- Don’t let juice from deli meats get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
- Keep factory-sealed, unopened packages of deli meats in the refrigerator for no longer than 2 weeks.
- Keep opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 to 5 days.
- Listeriosis can cause different symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected.
- Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
- People who are not pregnant may experience symptoms that include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
- People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
- For more information, see symptoms of Listeria infection.
December 4, 2020
Since the last update on October 23, 2020, one ill person was added to this investigation.
As of November 30, 2020, a total of 11 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from three states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.
Listeria samples from ill people were collected from August 6, 2020, to October 30, 2020. Ill people range in age from 40 to 89 years, with a median age of 84 years, and 82% are female. All 11 ill people were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Florida.
Investigation of the Outbreak
Epidemiologic evidence shows that deli meat is a likely source of this outbreak.
State and local public health officials interviewed ill people about the foods they ate in the month before they became ill. Of the 10 people interviewed, all reported eating Italian-style deli meats, such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto. They reported purchasing prepackaged deli meats and meats sliced at deli counters at various locations.
Investigators are working to identify a specific type of deli meat or a common supplier linked to the illnesses.
Deli meats can have Listeria bacteria. Even when there are no ongoing outbreaks, people who are at higher risk of getting sick from Listeria should avoid eating deli meats, unless heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.