Washington state health officials said Friday that three people died and two were hospitalized in a suspected outbreak of foodborne listeria in the Puget Sound area.
Tests showed that all five patients—three males and two females—became ill between February 27 and June 30 and likely had the same source of infection, but the investigation had yet to identify a common food source, officials said.
All of the infected people were in their 60s or 70s and had weakened immune systems, officials said.
Four of these were in Pierce County and one in Thurston County.
of Washington State Department of Health The agency said it was “collaborating with local health jurisdictions to gather information from interviews with patients and their families to identify common exposures.”
The source of the infection is still unknown, but officials say the bacterium is common in uncooked cheeses, deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products and ready-made deli salads such as potato and tuna salads.
Officials added that the organism dies at temperatures above 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Listeriosis, the disease caused by the listeria bacterium, is most threatening to the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, and those who are pregnant.
Listeriosis usually develops within two weeks of consuming contaminated food and can cause flu-like symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In severe cases, it can lead to miscarriage and other complications in pregnant women.
Between 10 and 25 cases are recorded each year in Washington state. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
State recorded from 2009 to 2021, the latest year for which data are available 18 Listeria outbreaks It resulted in 238 hospitalizations and 47 deaths, according to the CDC.