A listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms has killed four people in 17 states and sent 30 to the hospital. Amarita / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The new coronavirus isn’t the only public health threat facing the U.S. right now.
A listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms has killed four people in 17 states and sent 30 to the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday.
“Until we learn more about the source and distribution of the enoki mushrooms, CDC advises that people at higher risk for Listeria infections – pregnant women, adults ages 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer or on dialysis – avoid eating any enoki mushrooms labeled as ‘Product of Korea,'” the agency advised.
The CDC warning came a day after California-based Sun Hong Foods recalled all cases of its enoki mushrooms labeled “Product of Korea” after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted the company that samples of its product had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes in Michigan.
“Enoki mushrooms are white, with long stems and small caps,” the FDA explained. “They’re usually sold in clusters.”
The mushrooms are popular in East Asian cooking and are also called enokitake, golden needle, futu or lily mushrooms, according to USA Today.
The affected mushrooms were packaged in a white cardboard box, and then in clear plastic bags with green labels, according to the FDA. They have a Universal Product Code of 7 426852 625810 and were distributed in Washington, California, Florida, Illinois, Oregon and Texas. They are carried by J&L Supermarket, Jusgo Supermarket, ZTao Market, New Sang Supermarket and Galleria Market.
The outbreak so far has sickened a total of 36 people in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia, according to the CDC. Cases began to emerge between Nov. 23, 2016 and Dec. 13, 2019. The four deaths occurred in California, Hawaii and New Jersey.
People infected with listeriosis usually begin to have symptoms one to four weeks after eating contaminated food, though infections can begin as late as 70 days after exposure.
Pregnant people usually come down with flu-like symptoms such as fever and muscle ache, but it can have dangerous consequences for their children. Six of the people to fall ill in the current outbreak were pregnant, and two of these cases resulted in the loss of the infant.
In non-pregnant people, symptoms include flu-like symptoms as well as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. While otherwise healthy people will likely only experience symptoms for a short amount of time, the disease can have deadly consequences for children, elderly people or those with weakened immune systems, according to the FDA.