One woman has died and another has lost her baby due to listeriosis after eating raw milk cheese, according to French media reports.

The raw milk cheese was produced by Fromagere de la Brie, the company was ordered to stop production and recall raw and pasteurized dairy products in April. Epidemiological, environmental and food traceability investigations were conducted to identify the origin of contamination.

The Hauts de France public health agency confirmed a pregnant woman, who lived in Pas-de-Calais, lost her child and it was reported that she had eaten a cheese made by Fromagere de la Brie. An enquiry has been opened to determine the cause of death.

Earlier this month, a 64 year old woman died in l’Yonne after being hospitalized for two months and she is also believed to have eaten cheese made by the same company.

In April, a spokeswoman for Santé publique France told Food Safety News that two cases of listeriosis occurred in early March and both women were seriously ill.

“Investigations into two cases of listeriosis that occurred in March 2019 made it possible to identify the consumption of cheeses produced by Société Fromagère de la Brie as a source of contamination for these cases,” she said.

There are about 300 cases of listeriosis in France every year, according to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES).

Since the decision to suspend operations at Fromagere de la Brie, the company has had to put about 60 employees in partial unemployment for an unknown duration. A petition on claims several tons of cheese has been thrown away. Almost 2,500 people have signed the petition to support employees.

The United States was one of more than 30 countries that received the cheese from France potentially contaminated with Listeria. No illnesses have been reported from any other country.

Cheese was sent to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Luxembourg, Macao, Mauritius, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes. It can lead to sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems as well as miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions may occur. The incubation period is usually one to two weeks but can vary between a few and up to 90 days.

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