The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the FDA, CDC, and state and local partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes potentially linked to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.
The CDC has reported that seven infections with Listeria monocytogenes have been identified in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. To date, no cases have been identified in Rhode Island.
Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese until more information is known.
As part of this outbreak investigation, the Connecticut Department of Health collected samples of El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from a store where a sick person bought cheeses. Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses sold in 10-ounce packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of 2/26/21.
Samples are currently undergoing analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples matches the Listeria monocytogenes causing illness in people. These analyses are still ongoing. There is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.
Listeria Monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms (high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea) of infection with Listeria after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.