Baltimore, MD (September 11, 2012) -- The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and local health departments are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and public health officials in several other states to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. There have been no deaths, although the three Maryland cases currently identified with this outbreak have been hospitalized.
Products were sold to wholesale distributors for retailers and restaurants in Maryland between June 20 and August 9, 2012. Further investigation about the specific distribution of this cheese is ongoing.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms within 3 days to 10 weeks (usually within 3 weeks). Sometimes the blood or other body sites become infected. Pregnant women who become infected generally only develop flu-like symptoms (fever, tiredness, achiness). However, the infection can cause premature labor, premature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics.
Persons at higher risk for disease include:
Individuals with a weakened immune system (for example: persons with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease)
If a person has an illness consistent with listeriosis, they should see their healthcare provider.
DHMH is currently advising consumers to:
Not consume any Forever Cheese Ricotta Salata Frescolina Brand cheese or foods that have been made with this cheese
Discard any remaining cheese and those food items made with this cheese
Thoroughly clean and disinfect any surfaces that may have come in contact with this cheese prior to further use (example: cutting boards, knives, plates, etc.)
If they have purchased recalled product, contact the store where they purchased the cheese for a refund
In addition, while the recalled product is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk, the Department reminds Marylanders who are at higher risk for disease to avoid soft cheeses and products made from raw or unpasteurized milk.
Over the last 5 years, Maryland had an average of 15 listeriosis cases reported each year. Last year, there were 19 confirmed listeriosis cases reported in Maryland. More information on listeriosis can be found at: http://ideha.dhmh.maryland.