Saturday 11 March 2017

Listeria outbreak kills two in US.

Two people have died and four more have been hospitalised following an outbreak of food poisoning caused by the Bacterium Listeria monocytogenes according to the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The two fatalities reported occurred in Connecticut and Vermont, with cases also reported in Florida and New York. The outbreak has been linked to soft cheeses from the Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, which has recalled all lots of its Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc raw milk cheeses.The outbreak is being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and local health officials in several states.

Ouleout cheese from the Vulto Creamery in Walton, New York, one of the cheeses associated with the 2017 Listeria outbreak. Vulto Creamery.

Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative anaerobic Bacterium (Bacterium that does not need oxygen to survive, but which is not poisoned by it either) that is one of the most common causes of food-poisoning in Humans, causing an estimated 1600 infections and 260 fatalities in the US each year. It is a form of Firmicutes, tough cell-walled Bacteria that produce endospores capable of surviving desiccation and other extreme conditions, making the Bacteria very hard to eradicate.

Electron micrograph of a flagellated Listeria monocytogenes Bacterium, Magnified 41 250 times. Elizabeth White/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikipedia.

Listeria monocytogenes is particularly associated with unpasteurised dairy products (such as raw milk cheeses), as it is primarily an infection of Ruminant Mammals. It can cause meningitis-type infections in Humans, and is particularly dangerous to the very old, very young and those with compromised immune systems. However it can also thrive in Human gastrointestinal tracts without harming the host (it is estimated that about 10% of people are infected) raising the possibility of direst Human-to-Human transmission.
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