BOSTON (WWLP) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating 16 cases of Listeria where a majority of people were hospitalized and one person died.

The CDC is reporting an outbreak of Listeria in six states:

  • California – 1 case
  • Illinois – 2 cases
  • Maryland – 3 cases
  • Massachusetts – 2 cases
  • New Jersey – 1 case
  • New York – 7 cases

Of the 16 cases, 13 people were hospitalized for the Listeria infection, one person’s sickness resulted in a pregnancy loss, and one person from Maryland died. The CDC noted that 11 people infected are of Eastern European background or speak Russian, however it is unclear at this time why this is disproportionately affecting this population.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health told 22News they are working with local health officials and the CDC to investigate the two cases in Massachusetts. There has been no link to any specific retailer or product in Massachusetts at this time.

The CDC is still investigating the cause of the Listeria outbreak but most of the sick people reported eating meat or cheese from deli counters. Five of the people said they shopped at NetCost Market in New York, an international grocery store chain, and six others shopped at other delis.

Investigators discovered a strain of Listeria in open packages of sliced deli meats from a NetCost Market in Brooklyn and an open package of sliced salami purchased from a NetCost Market in Staten Island. However, they do not believe NetCost Market delis are the only source of the illness. The CDC believes a contaminated food likely brought the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in the affected states.

Deli meats and cheeses are a known source of Listeria due to how easy it can spread among food on deli countertops, deli slicers, surfaces and hands. Listeria is difficult to fully remove once it is in a deli because it is a hardy germ and can survive and grow at low temperatures.

People that are at high risk for Listeria illness (Pregnant, 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system) are recommended by the CDC to:

  • Not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter unless reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees
  • Clean their refrigerators, containers, and surfaces if deli meat or cheese from delis touched them
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of Listeria.
    • People that are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions or fever and muscle aches.
    • Pregnant people will typically experience only fever, fatigue and muscle aches. Lysteria may also cause pregnancy loss or premature birth.