Four U.S. states have been affected by an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes, a hardy foodborne pathogen that can survive in a variety of environments, making it challenging for food producers and processors to eradicate in their facilities.
The bacteria has sickened eight people in the ongoing outbreak, resulting in one death. The states impacted are Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Listeria monocytogenes is a hardy bacteria that can adapt well to a wide variety of environments, including cold temperatures, and can readily colonize on most surfaces.
When a person is infected, symptoms can take two to three weeks to appear, which can hamper traceback investigations, as it becomes difficult to pinpoint what the person has eaten. Symptoms usually include diarrhea, nausea, fever and muscle aches. For pregnant women, infections are more worrisome, and can lead to fetal loss or harm to the newborn. Older individuals and people with weakened immune systems also face greater risks.