A deadly outbreak of listeria in six states has been linked to contaminated deli meat and cheese, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced. But what can you do reduce your risk of becoming infected

What to know

Listeria is a hardy germ, so determined to stick around that it can continue to grow while refrigerated, which even fellow bacterial villains salmonella and E. coli cannot do.

In the United States, listeria is the third leading cause of death from foodborne illness, killing about 260 a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Even with adequate antibiotic treatment, the disease has a high mortality rate” of 20% to 30%, the US Food and Drug Administration said.

Pregnant people are about 10 times more likely to become sick from listeria, and the illness can be fatal to the fetus. Pregnant Hispanics are at highest risk, likely due to eating traditional soft cheeses such as queso fresco and other foods made with milk that is unpasteurized, the FDA said. Foods made with raw milk are 50 to 160 times more likely to contain listeria, the agency said.


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