Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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2000 Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Homemade Mexican Style Cheese, North Carolina

Twelve persons (eleven women; one immunocompromised man), all of Hispanic origen, developed infections caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Ten women were pregnant; these infections resulted in five stillbirths, three premature deliveries, and two infected newborns. The woman who was not pregnant developed her infection when she was five months postpartum; she had meningitis caused by Listeria monocytogenes. She had no known, pre-existing, medical condition that might increase her risk of illness. The male patient, who presented with a brain abscess, was receiving corticosteroid therapy after brain tumor surgery at the time his illness began. A case control study was performed to identify foods that may have placed the group at risk of illness with Listeria monocytogenes. Patients were more likely than controls to have eaten any cheese purchased from door-to-door vendors, queso fresco, a Mexican-style, fresh, soft cheese and hotdogs. Illness was not associated with purchases at specific markets or supermarkets, eating raw fruits or vegetables, deli products, other cheeses (e.g., American, cheddar, mozzarella, and blue/Gorgonzola), or other dairy products. The Mexican cheese had been made from raw milk in people's homes. Inspectors found unlabeled homemade cheese in the small local Latino grocery stores in Winston-Salem. In addition, this type of cheese was regularly sold in parking lots and through door-to-door sales. Owners of two local dairies reported selling raw milk. Milk was sampled from various local dairies. Listeria monocytogenes isolated from patients matched the Listeria monocytogenes found in the cheese samples and a milk sample from a manufacturing grade dairy.

  • Outbreak began:
  • October 2000
  • Affected Country:
  • US
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • North Carolina
  • Organism(s):
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Dairy, Cheese, Unpasteurized, Raw Cheese
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • Yes
  • Test Results:
  • Unknown
  • Location(s):
  • Home
  • Brand Name(s):
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • Unknown
  • Total ill:
  • 12
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Yes
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • 11
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • 1
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • 0
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • Yes
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • 12
  • Any Deaths:
  • Unknown
  • Number Dead:
  • Unknown
  • Any References:
  • Yes

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