A spike in Listeria infection in Colorado is concerning public health officials who ordinarily see only about 10 cases a year.
During August, nine people in eight Colorado counties were hospitalized with listeriosis. Confirmed cases involving people in their 30s through 90s were reported from Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson and Weld counties.
Two have died and seven of the nine were reported since Aug. 29.
The state issued a warning about the Listeria outbreak Friday, warning the public about soft cheeses, meat spreads, raw and undercooked hotdogs and other foods susceptible to Listeria contamination.
A 48-year old Colorado woman, Shelly Occhipinti-Krout, has –for the past week– been fighting for her life at Parker Adventist Hospital south of Denver.
Her daughter, Tiffany Weider, told Denver’s 7News, the local ABC affiliate, that Occhipinti-Krout experienced cardiac arrest before going into a coma. Earlier in the week, the family was told her chance of recovery was just 50-50, but now they’ve been given more hope with new 70-30 odds.
Colorado officials are looking at the recent Listeria recalls, including last week’s recall of 8,000 containers of 4 oz. Vita Classic Premium Sliced Smoked Atlantic Nova Salmon.
Two Colorado deaths in June were also attributed to Listeria.
Listeriosis is a foodborne illness that carries a special threat for pregnant women because it can cause stillborn births. For others the symptoms including fever, aches, nausea, and confusion and convulsions in serious cases. It can result in death.
Pregnant women, the elderly and other with compromised immune systems should avoid refrigerated smoked seafood, and non-pasteurized soft cheeses like queso fresco or brie.
Warnings being issued by Colorado state officials also call for hotdogs and deli meats to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Listeria can have an incubation period – -the time between ingestion and onset of symptoms –of up to 70 days, which often makes finding the source of the illnesses it causes difficult.
Colorado officials have not found the source in the current outbreak.