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3 die in Kansas from listeria outbreak possibly linked to Blue Bell ice cream products

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WASHINGTON -- An outbreak of listeria potentially linked to certain Blue Bell Creameries single serving ice cream products has killed three people in Kansas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health said the three deaths are among five patients from this outbreak. All five of the patients were in the same hospital.

Officials said four of the five patients were served the ice cream products in question while they were hospitalized for other reasons. Illnesses happened between January 2014 and January 2015.

Health experts are investigating a possible link to a Blue Bell Ice Cream production facility in Brenham, Texas. The hospital receives ice cream manufactured by Blue Bell Creameries, although it is not confirmed that the hospital receives ice cream only from the Brenham facility.

A routine inspection found listeria contamination in Blue Bell single serving Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwich and the Great Divide ice cream products at a distribution center in South Carolina on February 12. Those products came from the Texas plant.

Texas health authorities then found Listeria at the Brenham facility in those two products and a third product, Scoops single serving ice cream.

Consumers should check their freezers for any of these products and throw them away, even if some of the product has been eaten and no one has become ill. These products can have a shelf-life of up to 2 years.

Blue Bell Creameries reports that the following products were removed from the market and the Texas production facility has been shut down for now. This action includes only the products listed below and does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.

Product Name Product Code
Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196
Great Divide Bar SKU #108
Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221
Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216
Scoops SKU #117
Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964
Almond Bars SKU #156
6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245
6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249
12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343

*The regular Mooo Bars, available at grocery stores, are not subject to recall.

Here is a statement from Blue Bell:

For the first time in 108 years, Blue Bell announces a product recall. One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem. When this was detected all products produced by this machine were withdrawn.  Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage. This withdrawal in no way includes our half gallons, quarts, pints, cups, three gallon ice cream or the majority of take-home frozen snack novelties.For more information call 979-836-7977, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.

Facts about listeria

General Information: Approximately 1,600 cases of listeriosis are reported in the United States every year, with 260 resulting in death, according to the CDC.

Typically, Listeriosis affects older adults, pregnant women, infants, and adults with compromised immune systems.

Pregnant women are approximately 10 times more likely to get listeriosis. Roughly 14 percent of cases of listeriosis occur during pregnancy.

Listeria is named after Dr. Joseph Lister, an English surgeon who introduced sterilization into surgery. The mouthwash Listerine is also named after Dr. Lister.

Symptoms and Treatment: Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, and sometimes diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. Other symptoms are headache, confusion, and convulsions.

Almost everyone diagnosed with listeriosis has an infection that has spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.

Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.

Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Prevention: General recommendations: Thoroughly cook meat. Clean raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods. Do not drink unpasteurized milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk. Wash hands, utensils, and countertops after handling uncooked foods.

Recommendations for persons at high risk: Do not eat hot dogs, cold cuts, other deli meats, or fermented or dry sausages unless they are cooked properly. Do not eat refrigerated meat spreads and pâtés. Do not eat soft cheese unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is in a cooked dish or it is canned.