Following the outbreak of listeria, it has been reported that two people have died and four more have fallen ill in several eastern US states.
While the exact cause has not yet been ascertained, officials have said that a soft raw milk cheese called Ouleout from Vulto Creamery in New York state could be the reason behind the deaths.
News reports also said that six more cases of listeria have been recorded in Connecticut and Vermont. The victims of the outbreak range in age from less than a year to 89 years, while five of them are female. All six victims have been hospitalised while their identities have not yet been released. Listeria bacteria can occur in raw milk as well as foods made with it. What makes it dangerous is that the bacteria can survive refrigeration though they cannot survive cooking and pasteurisation. Vulto Creamery has refused to comment on the incident but has described the Ouleout cheese as a "semi-soft washed rind cheese" made from unpasteurised milk that tastes "pungent and meaty". The company has recalled all lots of Ouleou, Heinennellie, Miranda and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheese on Tuesday. Listeria can lead to high fever, stiffness, abdominal pain, severe headache, nausea, and diarrhoea in healthy people. And it can also be fatal for babies, the elderly or those who are already sick. The Centre for Disease Control has advised people that anyone who still has the cheese should dispose it off in a sealed plastic bag and wash the refrigerator in which the cheese was stored. "CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview them. This investigation is ongoing, and updates will be provided when more information is available," CDC wrote on its website.