Listeria Outbreak Lasts for Five Years
While you may have heard stories about food poisoning and Salmonella infections, for instance, fewer individuals are familiar with Listeria and the severe illnesses it can cause. According to a recent report from NPR, there is a current Listeria outbreak that “has been going on for five years.” It
involves Blue Bell Creameries, the notable ice cream maker out of Texas, which has now issued a product recall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tracked cases of Listeria infection from the frozen dessert back to as far as 2010.
Due to the Listeria outbreak, Blue Bell has now recalled “all of its products.” Despite news of the recall, ten people thus far have recently reported infections from the tainted ice cream. Of those infected, three people have died. Given the seriousness of the problem, the CDC quickly became involved and began tracing the infection rates over the last five years.
Blue Bell is actually the third-largest ice-cream brand in the country and thousands of people in the US consume Blue Bell ice cream each year. The fact that the Listeria outbreak has been linked to cases occurring as far back as five years is alarming to consumer advocates, because “that’s not typical in these investigations.” Dr. Brendan Jackson, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, explained that the center is using a new kind of technology to trace the infections, and the research is uncovering serious problems with the ice cream.
In fact, the CDC has learned that numerous patients became ill with Listeria infections years ago, but their illnesses were not linked at that point to Blue Bell. Why is the infection hard to track? According to the article, “Listeria is a tricky little pathogen that likes cold, wet conditions like refrigerators.” Once a consumer eats a product tainted with it, the pathogen “can lay in ambush for days, even weeks before symptoms show up in a patient.” Although Blue Bell has not had any previous history of Listeria infections related to its product, the company will now “test every batch” of ice cream “for Listeria before it ships.”
Learning More About Listeria Infections
What do you need to know about Listeria infections? According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important to know the symptoms, which can include:
- Muscle aches;
- Nausea; and
Typically, symptoms will begin just a few days after you have eaten a contaminated product, but in some cases, symptoms can take up to two months to appear. Furthermore, a Listeria infection can spread to your nervous system if not treated properly. Symptoms that the infection may have spread can include:
- Stiff neck;
- General confusion;
- Loss of balance; and
Consumers should also know that Listeria infections can be particularly hazardous for pregnant women and for newborns. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes the fact that an infection will only cause mild symptoms if you are pregnant, but the consequences can be “devastating” for the fetus. Unfortunately, “the baby may die unexpectedly before birth or experience a life-threatening infection within the first few days after birth.” Signs of a Listeria infection are different in newborns, and they are often subtle. Symptoms to look for can include:
- Limited interest in feeding;
- Fever; and
If you or your baby may have been infected with Listeria, you may be able to seek financial compensation. Contact an experienced product liability lawyer to learn more about your rights.