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New listeria cases tied to ice cream from Florida's Big Olaf. What to do if you ate it

Bradenton Herald - 8/9/2022

Aug. 9—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified two more illnesses in a deadly multi-state listeria outbreak that has been traced back to a Florida ice cream maker.

The ice cream was produced by Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota and distributed at independently owned retail locations throughout Florida. The earliest known infection happened in Jan. 2021, and the most recent in June 2022.

The two additional cases announced by the agency on Thursday bring the total known count of illnesses to 25 people from 11 states. Of those cases, one was fatal and 24 resulted in hospitalization.

Additionally, five of those who fell sick were pregnant, and one woman from Illinois lost her pregnancy.

Since many people recover without medical care, the true number of those infected is likely much higher than the number reported.

Federal and state agencies are collaborating on the investigation of the listeria outbreak. Testing has revealed that listeria was present at Big Olaf's production facility and in its products. Of 17 flavors of ice cream tested, 16 contained listeria, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found.

The strain of listeria found at Big Olaf's production facility has been matched to the strain in the outbreak using whole genome sequencing, the CDC said.

Big Olaf Creamery issued a recall for all of its products on July 13 and voluntarily ceased production at its Sarasota facility. The state simultaneously issued an official order for the company to stop sales.

Food recalls are typically issued voluntarily by manufacturers. Big Olaf Creamery waited 11 days after being notified of the listeria investigation to issue a recall for its ice cream products. Several independently owned retail locations also continued to serve Big Olaf ice cream after the investigation began.

What should you do if you ate Big Olaf ice cream?

Most people do not become seriously ill from eating food contaminated with listeria, health officials advise.

"If you ate food possibly contaminated with Listeria and do not feel sick, most experts believe you do not need tests or treatment," the CDC says. "Talk with your medical provider if you have questions about what to do after eating possibly contaminated food."

However, serious infections, known as listeriosis, can be life-threatening. Seniors, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for serious listeria infections, health officials say.

People who have eaten possibly contaminated food should seek medical care if they develop symptoms of listeriosis, which include fatigue, muscle aches, fever and flu-like symptoms.

People other than pregnant women who contract listeriosis are more likely to experience additional symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, the CDC says.


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