FDA is notifying healthcare professionals and their medical care organizations of the ongoing investigation of an outbreak of listeriosis linked to commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples.
The CDC reports that 29 people in 10 states have been reported as being infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes, with all 29 ill people hospitalized and five deaths reported. Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related.
What Is Listeria Monocytogenes?
Listeria monocytogenes, a rod-shaped bacterium, is one of the world’s deadliest foodborne pathogens. It causes listeriosis, a group of life-threatening diseases that include meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, septicemia, and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women.
L. monocytogenes infects and moves through white blood cells using actin rockets, also known as “comet tails.”The rockets work like this: A protein anchored to the bacterium’s membrane triggers the rapid polymerization of the protein actin; this provides an explosive boost, so the bacterium can push through the membrane of white blood cells and burst out to infect another cell. In this image, the bacteria (shown in red) are traveling around a cell using their bright actin rockets. Courtesy of discovermagazine.com and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
Health professionals should inform patients to not eat commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples, including those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.
Consumers should throw away any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that they may have in their homes until more specific guidance can be provided.
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 health care provider about any history of eating those caramel apples.