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Big Olaf Listeria Outbreak spreads to the Midwest

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The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) collected samples of ice cream and environmental samples from the ice cream production area at the Big Olaf Creamery facility in Sarasota, Florida. FDACS also performed whole genome sequencing on these samples and the Florida Department of Health identified the outbreak strain in the samples collected from the ice cream and the environment.

Outbreak update:

Total Illnesses: 25

Hospitalizations: 24

Death: 1

Fetal Loss: 1

States with Cases: Colorado (1), Florida (13), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Kansas (1), Nebraska (1), Massachusetts  (2), Minnesota (1), New Jersey (1), New York (2), and Pennsylvania (1).

Product Distribution: FL, OH Distribution has been confirmed for states listed, but product could have been distributed further, reaching additional states.

The CDC and FDA report since the last update on July 13, 2022, two more illnesses have been reported. As of August 2, 2022, a total of 25 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 11 states. Thirteen sick people are residents of Florida and ten reported traveling to Florida before getting sick. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 24, 2021, to June 24, 2022.

Sick people range in age from less than one to 92 years, with a median age of 72, and 56% are male. Of 25 people with information available, 24 have been hospitalized. One death in a person who was not pregnant has been reported from Illinois. Five people got sick during their pregnancy, and one person’s illness resulted in a fetal loss.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

Public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate before they got sick. Of the 21 people interviewed, all (100%) reported eating ice cream. Among 17 people who remembered details about the type of ice cream they ate, 12 reported eating Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or eating ice cream at locations that might have been supplied by Big Olaf Creamery. Eight sick people were identified as part of three illness clusters in this outbreak. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating food from the same retail location before getting sick. If several unrelated sick people ate food from the same retail location, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. All three illness clusters were at retail locations that sell Big Olaf Creamery ice cream.

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