State health and agriculture officials in Washington state are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on an ongoing outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to consumption of Latin-style soft cheese produced by Queseria Bendita of Yakima, WA. As of Jan. 16, 2015, a total of three cases have been identified in King, Pierce and Yakima counties of WA, according to the department. One illness was pregnancy-associated, two people were hospitalized, and one death was reported. The affected products made by the Yakima-based Queseria Bendita are subject to a voluntary recall and the firm has stopped producing cheese. Health officials are warning consumers who may have purchased these three Queseria Bendita brand cheeses — Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson — and still have it in their refrigerators to throw the product away and not eat it. Grocery stores and distributors should pull and not sell these products, official said. Queseria Bendita recalled the same three types of cheeses nearly five years ago for potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. One illness was reported in WA in connection with that recall, with other illnesses in WA and OR considered possibly related. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease affects primarily older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and persons with weakened immune systems. Approximately 11 to 29 cases of listeriosis are reported in Washington each year. Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Bloodstream infections or meningitis may occur. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn. Symptoms often begin three weeks after infection, but they can take anywhere from three to 70 days. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Listeriosis should contact their health care provider. There are some steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of acquiring a Listeria infection such as avoiding unpasteurized milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk (including cheese), washing raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, and thoroughly cooking raw food from animal sources such as beef, pork, or poultry. Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Make sure to wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. It is important to consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible. More information on Listeria can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.