3 dead, 2 ill from outbreak linked to Blue Bell Creameries

TOPEKA, Kansas (KSN-TV) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is investigating an outbreak of listeriosis cases linked to ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries.

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

The outbreak in Kansas includes three deaths among five people who became ill after being treated for unrelated at a Wichita hospital. All but one were known to have eaten milkshakes at the hospital made with a Blue Bell product called “Scoops.”

Link: CDC report on Blue Bell incident

Those affected became ill between January 2014 and January 2015. According to KDHE Data, two cases of listeriosis were reported in Sedgwick County, and one each in Ford, Harvey, Shawnee, and Wyandotte.

The cluster was identified this month when health officials learned two of the five people had been treated at Via Christi Hospital in Wichita.

The five patients are all older adults, and three are women. Health officials said they were infected with one of four rare strains of listeriosis. Three of those rare strains were also found in other Blue Bell products manufactured in Texas and South Carolina.

Link: CDC’s Listeria FAQ page

Paul Kruse, CEO of Blue Bell Ice Cream, said once they found out about the contaminated produces, all were removed from store shelves and the production line was shut down.

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “It’s never happened to us before.”

Kruse said the products were removed from shelves three weeks ago and the company continues to investigate how the ice cream became contaminated. Still, some of those products have a shelf life of up to two years and could still be in the freezers of consumers, institutions and retailers.

The FDA warned consumers about the potential contamination in Blue Bell Creameries’ products. Kansas health officials are warning consumers who have purchased the following Blue Bell Creameries products to discard them:

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 Pk Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245
6 Pk Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249
12 Pk No Sugar Added Mooo Bars SKU #343

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

At this time, no other products from Blue Bell Creameries have been linked to this outbreak.

Link: FDA food recall response to Blue Bell

The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

Symptoms begin from three to 70 days after consuming the bacteria.

Anyone who believes they may have become ill with listeriosis should contact their health care provider.

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