State and federal officials say ice cream is behind the outbreak of a deadly Listeria monocytogenes infection that has affected people in 10 states.
“As a result of this investigation, Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota, Florida voluntarily contacted retail locations to recommend that they not sell their ice cream products. Consumers who have Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream at home should discard any remaining product,” according to a posted notice. Tonight by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of June 30, there are 23 confirmed patients, one of whom has died. The CDC reported earlier this week that another patient was a pregnant woman who had lost her baby to the infection. Twenty-two of the patients were so sick that they had to be taken to the hospital.
Of the 17 people interviewed to date, 14 reported having eaten ice cream. Of the 13 people who recalled details about the type of ice cream they ate, six reported eating Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or eating ice cream at locations that may have been supplied by Big Olaf Creamery.
Investigation is underway. The company has not yet begun to redeem.
Of the 22 people with information, 20 patients reported living in or traveling to Florida in the month prior to their illness, although the significance of this is still being investigated. The illnesses began on dates ranging from January 24, 2021, through June 12, 2022, the CDC reported.
Whole genome sequencing showed that bacteria from patient samples are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are likely to have gotten sick from the same food.
Patients ranged in age from less than 1 to 92 years, with a median age of 72 years, and 52 percent were male. Five people became ill during pregnancy, and one disease resulted in fetal loss.
The true number of patients in an outbreak is likely to be higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to states with known diseases, according to the CDC. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler has represented victims in recent years who have contracted Listeria monocytogenes found in Blue Bell ice cream. He said it was unfortunate to see the scale of the current outbreak in the wake of the Blue Bell outbreak.
Blue Bell’s former president, Paul Cruz, is scheduled to go on trial starting August 1. Blue Bell’s health record has become a pre-trial issue that could extend to any record prior to the outbreak.
The CDC has not specifically reported where the Big Olaf ice cream was manufactured, which is involved in the current outbreak.
About Listeria infection
Foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled, but it can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the involved Big Olaf ice cream and develops symptoms of listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about possible exposure to listeria.
Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms over the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headaches, and a stiff neck. Specific lab tests are required to diagnose Listeria infection, which can mimic other diseases.
Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients with weakened immune systems are especially at risk of developing serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may only experience mild flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature birth, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.