FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2015

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


Five Kansans ill from Listeriosis outbreak linked to Blue Bell Creameries

TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to investigate an outbreak of listeriosis cases in five adult Kansas residents linked to ice cream consumed from Blue Bell Creameries. Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

Five people in Kansas have become ill as part of this outbreak and three deaths have been reported. Patients became ill with listeriosis after hospitalizations for unrelated causes at the same hospital. They became ill between January 2014 and January 2015 after a majority were known to have consumed Blue Bell Creameries ice cream at the hospital. The hospital was not aware of the listeriosis contamination. The outbreak was recently discovered after two patients were identified with the same strain of listeriosis. Further investigation identified three other patients with listeriosis who had been hospitalized for unrelated causes before the onset of listeriosis.

Today, the FDA warned consumers about the potential contamination in Blue Bell Creameries’ products. Kansas health officials are warning consumers who have purchased the following Blue Bell Creameries novelty items and have not consumed the items to discard them:

Potentially contaminated items have been pulled from retail locations by Blue Bell Creameries and are no longer available for purchase. At this time, no other products from Blue Bell Creameries have been linked to this outbreak.

The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Symptoms begin from three to 70 days after consuming the bacteria. In 2014, five cases of listeriosis were reported in Kansas.

Anyone who believes they may have become ill with listeriosis should contact their health care provider.

More information about listeriosis can be found on the CDC website www.cdc.gov/listeria. More information about this outbreak can be found on the FDA website http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm438104.htm.