Outbreak Investigation Updates by Date

Posted December 27, 2019 at 2:30 PM ET

December 23, 2019

On December 23, 2019, Almark Foods expanded its recallexternal icon to include all hard-boiled eggs produced at its Gainesville, Georgia, facility.

Additionally, FDA found Listeria in an environmental sample taken at the Almark Foods Gainesville, Georgia, processing facility during an FDA inspection conducted in December 2019. WGS showed that the bacteria in the environmental sample is closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

December 18, 2019

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to hard-boiled eggs.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Listeria bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

As of December 17, 2019, a total of seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogeneshave been reported from five states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from April 10, 2017, to November 12, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 82 years, with a median age of 75. Seventy-one percent of ill people are male. Of six ill people with information available, four hospitalizations have been reported. One death has been reported from Texas.One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with Listeria while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.

Investigation of the Outbreak

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that bulk hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are a likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the month before they became ill. Of the five people for whom information was available, four (80%) reported eating products containing eggs. Three of these people reported eating hard-boiled eggs in deli salads purchased from grocery stores and in salads eaten at restaurants.

In the PulseNet database, CDC noted two environmental samples from February 2019 that are closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in this outbreak. FDA reports that these samples were taken during a routine inspection of the Almark Foods facilityexternal icon. These results provide additional evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods.

Investigators are continuing to collect records from grocery stores and restaurants where ill people reported eating hard-boiled eggs. Investigations are ongoing to determine and document the distribution and production chain, as well as the source of hard-boiled eggs to the locations reported by ill people.

CDC is concerned that bulk, fresh hard-boiled eggs produced by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick. These products were packaged in plastic pails for use nationwide by food service operators.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.