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Two deaths linked to Listeria outbreak in cheese

By Joe Whitworth+

09-Mar-2017
Last updated on 10-Mar-2017 at 22:45 GMT2017-03-10T22:45:33Z

Recalled Vulto Creamery cheese
Recalled Vulto Creamery cheese

A multi-state outbreak of listeriosis from soft raw milk cheese has killed two people, according to US authorities.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of the outbreak which has affected six people from four states.

The agencies have been investigating the outbreak since January 31 with the first illness reported in September last year.

Affected states are Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont and ill people range in age from less than one year to 89.

All six ill people were hospitalized and two from Connecticut and Vermont died.

Company recall

Vulto Creamery has recalled all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses.

Vulto Creamery cheese

The firm said Ouleout is a semi-soft washed rind cheese named after a nearby creek.

They were distributed nationwide, with most being sold at retail in the north eastern and Mid-Atlantic states, California, Chicago, Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C.

“If you have any of this soft, wash-rind raw-milk cheese, please do not consume it. Consumers that have any of these soft raw milk cheeses from Vulto Creamery should return the cheese to the purchase location for a refund,” said the company. 

“Food and cheese wholesalers and retailers with any of the Vulto Creamery soft, wash-rind raw milk cheeses on hand should immediately remove these products from common storage coolers and quarantine these cheeses in a secured area of a cooler. 

“Any wholesaler or distributor that has any of the four cheeses should contact Vulto Creamery to receive instructions on what to do with the cheese. No recalled cheese should be destroyed until Vulto Creamery has been notified and agrees.”

Outbreak strain found in product

All of those interviewed ate various types of soft cheeses in the month before illness started.

Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from September 1, 2016 to January 22, 2017.

Cheese made by Vulto Creamery was on sale at stores where at least five sick people purchased cheese before becoming ill.

The outbreak strain of Listeria was identified in samples of three intact wheels of Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery by the New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services.

Production has been suspended while FDA and the company investigate the source of the problem.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health collected cheeses from the deceased person's home.

The outbreak strain was identified in a leftover cheese that the family identified as Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery.

WGS on clinical isolates from the six ill people shows they are closely related genetically which provides additional evidence that people became ill from a common source.

Other outbreak updates

Expanded recall

Meanwhile, the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 linked to a peanut butter substitute has sickened four more people in four different states.

The count now stands at 16 people in nine states with the most recent illness starting on February 21.

Two additional hospitalizations and one more ill person with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, were reported.

Fourteen of the 16 ill people are younger than 18 years old.

The SoyNut Butter Co. recalled all varieties and dates of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and I.M. Healthy Granola.

I.M. Healthy Products were distributed in multiple states and may have been purchased in stores or through mail order. They were also sent to childcare centers and schools in different states.

The firm said there has been a positive E. coli test in Oregon while samples from its contract manufacturer are still being tested.

Oregon Health Authority epidemiologists collected a product sample from the home of two infected people and tests showed E. coli O157.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter and Granola products have been recalled but no illnesses have been reported.

Finally, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses linked to raw and undercooked oysters from British Columbia has affected another 22 people bringing the number of cases to 289.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the cause of contamination had not yet been identified.

British Columbia (201), Alberta (40) and Ontario (48) have reported cases between December and February.

Four shellfish farms where oysters are harvested in British Columbia have been closed.

Oysters should be cooked to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius/194° Fahrenheit for a minimum of 90 seconds.

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