Florida-made ice cream linked to listeria outbreak that killed 1, left 22 hospitalized in 10 states

SARASOTA, Fla. — Investigators with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday linked ice cream made in Sarasota, Floirda, to a listeria outbreak that has killed at least one person and left nearly two dozen others across 10 states hospitalized since January.

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Although a formal recall has not been issued, the CDC advised consumers who have Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream, which is sold exclusively in Florida, to throw out the product.

“Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota, FL, is voluntarily contacting retail locations to recommend against selling their ice cream products until further notice,” the CDC stated.

The agency also advised consumers and business owners to clean any areas, containers and serving utensils that may have touched Big Olaf ice cream products.

According to the CDC, the fatality linked to the listeria outbreak was reported in Illinois; five people fell ill during pregnancy; and at least one patient suffered a miscarriage while ill, WPLG reported.

Although Florida has remained the epicenter of the outbreak with 12 cases reported to date, the CDC confirmed Thursday that New York and Massachusetts have each reported two cases, while Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have confirmed one case each, WTVJ reported.

According to the CDC, nearly all 23 infected people either live in or traveled to Florida about a month before they fell ill.

The agency also warned that the outbreak may be more widespread than public health figures indicate because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for the condition.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, which can result in serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and others with weakened immune systems. It can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, according to the CDC.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women, the agency stated.

Symptoms typically begin within two weeks of eating contaminated food, but they may start as early as the same day or as late as 70 days, WPLG reported.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1,600 people contract listeriosis each year, resulting in about 260 deaths.