According to an update Wednesday night from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been eight people sickened by strains of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Blue Bell Creameries products in Kansas and Texas. The outbreak now consists of two clusters of illnesses that are likely linked to Blue Bell brand ice cream. Blue Bell Creameries logoCluster 1 consists of five patients reported from Kansas during January 2014 through January 2015 who were all hospitalized at a single hospital for unrelated problems before developing listeriosis. Of the four ill people for whom information is available on the foods eaten in the month before Listeria infection, all consumed milkshakes made at the hospital with a Blue Bell brand ice cream product called “Scoops.” Whole genome sequences of Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from four of the patients were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from “Scoops” and two other products made on the same line at the company’s Texas facility. These products were recalled by Blue Bell Creameries on March 13, 2015. Cluster 2 consists of three patients reported from Texas between 2011 and 2014 who were all hospitalized for unrelated problems before developing listeriosis. Whole genome sequences of their Listeria monocytogenes strains were highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from another Blue Bell ice cream product — 3-oz. institutional/food service chocolate ice cream cups made at the company’s Oklahoma production facility. The cup products were recalled by Blue Bell Creameries on March 23, 2015. Three additional patients with listeriosis during 2010 through 2012 whose isolates have PFGE patterns similar to those of others in the cluster have been identified in the PulseNet database. Further testing is underway to determine whether these illnesses may be related to this outbreak. Results of this testing will be reported once they are available. Blue-Bell-April8_700 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently isolated Listeria monocytogenes strains from a 1-pint container of Blue Bell brand banana pudding ice cream collected from the company’s Oklahoma production facility. This contaminated product was produced in the same facility but on a different line from the 3-oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups previously recalled. On April 3, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries reported that they had voluntarily suspended operations at their Oklahoma production facility. On April 7, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries announced a third product recall that included banana pudding ice cream pints and other products made on the same line that were produced between Feb. 12, 2015, and March 27, 2015, at their Oklahoma facility. Further testing of environmental and product samples from Blue Bell Creamery facilities is ongoing. CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any recalled products or Blue Bell brand products made at the Oklahoma production facility and that retailers and institutions not sell or serve them. This advice is particularly important for consumers at higher risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems. State and local health officials, CDC and FDA continue to work closely on the investigation.

  • pawpaw

    According to CDC link above and your March 24 headline: of 8 sickened to date in this outbreak 3 have DIED. Surprised that neither your headline or story above includes these 3 deaths. Perhaps deaths from pasteurized dairy don’t fit certain paradigms; not newsworthy? Just sayin’…