The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned consumers to avoid Hispanic-style cheeses like queso fresco over a Listeria outbreak that could be dangerous in certain high-risk people. The advisory was first published late last week; there’s an active investigation in progress and, at this point in time, no product recalls associated with it.
The new CDC advisory covers a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has resulted in cases across Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York. As of February 12, the agency said that seven cases had been reported, all of which resulted in hospitalizations.
Though Listeria isn’t likely to hit healthy adults particularly hard, according to the CDC, it can result in a severe illness in at-risk groups, including anyone who has a weakened immune system, the elderly, and pregnant women. If you are at high risk of developing a severe Listeria illness, the CDC says you should avoid all Hispanic-style cheeses at this point in time.
Though the hospitalized patients reveal that this type of cheese is likely the cause of the outbreak, the investigation hasn’t yet identified any specific manufacturer or brand. If you’re not in the high-risk groups, the CDC says on its advisory page that you should make sure the cheese was made using pasteurized milk before eating it.
The agency warns, though, that if the Listeria contamination happened in a facility where the cheese is produced, the use of pasteurized milk won’t prevent you from getting sick. The CDC lists the possible symptoms you may experience if you eat the contaminated cheese in its advisory; they’re different in pregnant women versus everyone else.