The Food and Drug Administration, alongside the Centers for Disease Control, announced an outbreak of listeriosis caused by prepackaged caramel apples. So far, this outbreak has led to 31 hospitalizations, seven deaths, and three cases of meningitis.
Meningitis is a potentially deadly disease that can be caused by bacterial infections like listeria, but it is generally preventable through vaccination. Completing the recommended vaccine schedule, for both children and adults, will typically provide an individual with the necessary immunity to avoid meningitis if exposed to listeriosis or other infections that can lead to bacterial meningitis.
“Listeriosis is a generally rare but serious illness,” said Melanie Kohr, RN, Vice-President of Clinic Operations for Passport Health. “In some cases, it can develop into meningitis, especially in the young and the immunocompromised, but those most at risk are in the unvaccinated population. This situation is not entirely unlike what we saw in Disneyland; although this disease is nowhere near as contagious, it can still cause some serious problems.”
According to the CDC, the best method of preventing listeriosis is by properly washing and handling food before eating. In the case of this outbreak, the CDC and the FDA have worked with the caramel apple manufacturer, and it is now offering a voluntary recall.
If you do contract listeriosis, the best means to prevent more serious complications is the meningitis vaccination, and especially in children. Medical professionals may prescribe additional medications and treatments as needed in order to avoid any unwanted complications from the listeria bacteria.
Listeriosis is a serious infection. According to the FDA, “Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills after eating commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples should seek medical care and tell the healthcare provider about any history of eating those caramel apples. Symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.”
Seeking medical attention is especially important given the risk of meningeal infection.
For more information on the listeriosis outbreak see the CDC’s outbreaks page.
For more information on meningitis and the meningitis vaccine see Passport Health’s meningitis portal.