Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 12:15 am
By Diane Graff Managing Editor
A sixth person, this time from Texas, has been sickened with the strain of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday, Aug. 22, a sixth person has been infected in the outbreak. The number of ill persons identified includes two from Minnesota, and one each from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and now one from Texas. One of the two Minnesota victims died and another person sickened was a pregnant woman that resulted in a miscarriage.
On July 3, the Waterloo-based company recalled three varieties of soft cheese, including its Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles made July 1 or earlier due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The products were distributed nationwide.
According to the CDC, a collaborative investigation is being conducted by local and state public health and regulatory agencies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicates that Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles cheeses are the likely source of the outbreak.
Information about specific cheeses consumed is available for five of the six ill persons. Of those, all five either definitely or probably ate Les Freres cheese made by Crave Brothers before getting sick, according to the CDC.
Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illnesses were diagnosed range from May 20 to July 7. Ill persons range in age from 30 to 67 years, with a median age of 55 years and 83 percent are female, according to the CDC. Clinical specimens that were collected after Aug. 10 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. It takes an average of two to three weeks.
Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulse-field gel electrophoresis to identify cases of illness that may be part of the outbreak.
The DNA fingerprint of the outbreak strain is typically associated with about 14 cases per year, even in the absence of a recognized outbreak, according to the CDC website.
Between July 2 and July 10, the FDA conducted an inspection at the firm’s processing facility in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. During that inspection, the FDA collected a sample of Petit Frere with Truffles that was found to contain Listeria monocytogenes with the same DNA fingerprint as the outbreak strain, the CDC reported.
Crave Brothers cheese stopped production and the FDA and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture are monitoring corrective action being made by the firm.
About 800 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis are reported each year in the United States, and typically 3 or 4 outbreaks are identified and reported to the CDC annually. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese did not provide a comment on the one new outbreak.