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This Cheese Is Linked to a Listeria Outbreak, CDC Warns

Seven people have been hospitalized in four states.

Seven people have been hospitalized in a multi-state Listeria outbreak linked to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses, according to a food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The federal agency has not yet identified a specific name brand or type of cheese as the culprit; but the illnesses are "closely related genetically," meaning the culprit is likely the same food. And a soft cheese like queso blanco, queso fresco, or queso panela appears to be the source. (Related: Stay safe with The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)

Four illnesses were reported in Maryland, as well as three more in Connecticut, New York, and Virginia since Oct. 20, 2020, according to the alert. The ages of the individuals range from 45 to 75, all of whom were hospitalized. Of four people who were interviewed, three reported eating queso fresco recently.

Symptoms of a Listeria infection include confusion, convulsions, diarrhea, fever, headache, loss of balance, and stiff neck. They may begin one to four weeks after eating contaminated food and can be treated with antibiotics. In pregnant women, flu-like symptoms could develop, which may lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth, according to the CDC.

To protect yourself, don't eat any Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses until a specific source is named in the outbreak. If you do, make sure the packaging says it's "made with pasteurized milk." Call your doctor or healthcare provider if any symptoms develop.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda