FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A soft cheese linked to a deadly multi-state outbreak of listeria was sold at the Whole Foods in Fairfield, and one death has been reported in Connecticut, according to the state Department of Public Health.
The DPH announced Wednesday it is involved in the investigation of six confirmed cases of Listeria monocytogenes.
Sickened people were reported in Connecticut, Florida, New York, and Vermont and range in age from 0 to 89. Two of the six people have died, one of whom was a Connecticut resident.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration, with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local officials, has identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, N.Y., as the likely cause of the outbreak.
Vulto Creamery began contacting its customers to return any purchased Ouleout cheese on March 3 after learning of a positive Ouleout cheese sample. They issued a formal recall of their Miranda, Heinennelli, Willowemoc cheeses as well.
These soft raw milk cheeses were distributed nationwide, with most sold at retail stores in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, California, Chicago, Portland, and Washington, D.C.
The Whole Foods grocery store in Fairfield received cheese from Vulto for retail sales and has initiated its own recall, DPH said.
The FDA is collecting additional distribution information from the creamery. Specialty cheese shops in Connecticut that carry Vulto Creamery cheeses may have received recalled product and should check their inventory.
Retailers and customers who have recalled cheese should throw it away and not eat it or sell it.
Display cases or refrigerators where potentially contaminated product was stored should be washed and sanitized, as well as any cutting boards or cheese knives used to cut, serve, or store the product. Hands should be washed with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process.
Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes.
Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills while pregnant after eating any of the recalled products, should seek medical care.
Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.
Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions.
In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.