Commercially produced pre-packaged caramel apples are being blamed for the outbreak of listeriosis across 10 states in recent weeks. At least four people infected with the strains have lost their lives while 21 have been hospitalized, confirmed federal health officials on Friday. 18 infected people were interviewed by health officials and 15 of them agreed to having eaten caramel apples before falling ill.
The sticky treats are usually a fall product but some homes or stores might still be having them. To be on the safer side, the agency has suggested people to avoid them avoided “out of an abundance of caution.”
Those still having these caramel apples have been asked not to eat any of those. They have also been asked to wrap them in plastic bags before throwing them away to prevent other people or animals from eating them, said the CDC. But the agency added that no cases related to the outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged, or to caramel candy.
Listeriosis is an infection which affects people with weak immune systems- older people, children, pregnant women and newborns. It causes symptoms like headache, muscle aches, fever, gastrointestinal infections and convulsions in the affected people. In extreme cases, it might also cause death. However, if detected in time, it can be treated with the help of antibiotics.
The CDC does not yet know the source of the contamination or the types of commercially produced prepackaged caramel apples involved.
The agency has reported three other outbreaks of listeriosis this year, though this one is the largest. The previous ones had been brought about by soy and cheese products. It is also the largest outbreak of this disease since 2011 which had left 147 people from 28 states dead. That had been traced to contaminated cantaloupes.
The people affected by listeriosis belong to California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, Utah, Missouri, Arizona and New Mexico.
These figures, the CDC added, included only those who had reported illness in late October and November and that cases reported after December 3 might not be a part of the figures mentioned above.