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New listeria outbreak linked to Florida leaves one dead, 23 total infected

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(NEW YORK) — One person in Illinois died after being infected with listeria, in a new outbreak that has infected a total of 23 people across 10 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The CDC said all but one of those infected were hospitalized.

Listeria is an illness that typically affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC. It is rare for people in other groups to get the illness. Listeria is treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms vary based on the person and the part of the body affected. A rare version can cause fever and diarrhea.

Listeria outbreaks are typically traced back to one source, such as contaminated food products. The CDC said it is too soon to know the source of the outbreak, but said that most of the people who got sick lived in or traveled to Florida about a month before their illness. It is not clear if that is a coincidence, the CDC said.

For people who suffer a severe illness called invasive listeriosis, where the bacteria has spread beyond the gut, symptoms vary based on whether they are pregnant or not. Pregnant women usually experience fever and flu-like symptoms including fatigue and muscle aches. For others, symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches.

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Symptoms of severe illness usually start within two weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria, but could also start as early as the same day or as late as 70 days after.

It is usually a mild illness for pregnant women, but it can cause severe illness in fetuses and newborn babies. Infections during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection in the newborn.

Five pregnant women became sick during the recent outbreak, one of which resulted in the loss of the fetus.

People ages 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems could develop severe infections in the bloodstream, possibly causing sepsis, or in the brain. Other parts of the body could also be affected, including bones, joints and sites in the chest and abdomen.

The CDC said anyone suffering listeria symptoms should call their local health department and report the case.

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