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Caramel apples linked to 5 deaths, Thurston County teen's illness - The Seattle Times

Caramel apples linked to 5 deaths, Thurston County teen's illness







A teen boy from Thurston County is among some 28 people so far sickened in a multistate outbreak of listeria food poisoning tied to prepackaged caramel-coated apples.
A teen boy from Thurston County is among at least 28 people so far sickened in a multistate outbreak of listeria food poisoning tied to prepackaged caramel-coated apples — including five people who have died, federal and state health officials said Friday.
The boy was hospitalized but has since recovered, said Donn Moyer, a spokesman for the state Department of Health.
He’s among 26 victims hospitalized in the outbreak that has reached 10 states. Nine pregnant women or their newborn babies have fallen ill and three cases of meningitis were reported in previously healthy children aged 5 to 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
No brands or manufacturers of the caramel-apple products have been identified and no recall has been issued. CDC officials warned consumers not to eat any of the commercially produced treats while the rapidly evolving investigation continues. That includes plain caramel apples, and those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate or other toppings.
The candy-coated apples could have a shelf life of a month or longer. The caramel apples were sold in plastic clamshell containers in single-serve portions or packs of three, state health officials said.
“Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide or may be in consumers’ homes,” CDC officials said in a statement.
The illnesses started between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27. Cases reported after Dec. 3 might not yet be included in the total because of a lag in reporting, officials said.
Health officials discovered two clusters of listeria tied to the caramel apples through the nation’s PulseNet system, which identifies the genetic fingerprints of suspect bugs. So far, 83 percent of the victims interviewed reported eating packaged caramel apples before falling ill. Among those whose illnesses weren’t associated with pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, the CDC said.
Listeria infection contributed to at least four of the deaths. Two of the deaths were in Minnesota and one was in Texas. CDC officials couldn’t say where the other deaths occurred. No deaths have been reported in Washington, and state officials aren’t investigating any other cases now.
The 28 ill people have been reported in the following states: Arizona, four; California, one; Minnesota, four; Missouri, five; New Mexico, five; North Carolina, one; Texas, four; Utah, one; Washington, one; and Wisconsin, two.
Listeria bacteria are typically transmitted by eating contaminated food and can cause serious infections, particularly in older adults, pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms typically include headache, stiff neck, confusion, fever and muscle aches.
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