Epidemiologic and laboratory data show that queso fresco cheeses made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc. are contaminated with Listeria and have made people sick.
Since the last update on February 19, three more illnesses have been reported. As of February 23, a total of 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from four states – New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 20, 2020, to February 9, 2021, with nine recent illnesses in 2021.
Sick people range in age from <1 to 75 years, with a median age of 54. Nine people are Hispanic, and six people are female. Two illnesses are pregnancy-associated. Out of nine people with information available, all have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
Investigators are concerned that additional El Abuelito brand cheeses made or handled in the same facility as the queso fresco may be contaminated with Listeria. CDC and FDA are expanding our advice to recommend people not eat, sell, or serve any cheeses sold under the brand name of El Abuelito, in addition to the recalled queso fresco cheeses.