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Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 15;35(8):943-9. Epub 2002 Sep 23.

An outbreak of febrile gastroenteritis associated with delicatessen meat contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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  • 1Acute Communicable Disease Control Unit, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services/Public Health, Los Angeles, CA 90005, USA.


In June 2001, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services/Public Health conducted a cohort study of an outbreak of acute febrile gastroenteritis among 16 of 44 healthy attendees of a catered party. The median age of the attendees who became ill was 15.5 years. Symptoms included body aches (in 88% of attendees), fever (81%), headache (81%), diarrhea (63%), and vomiting (56%). Illness was associated with ingestion of precooked, sliced turkey (P=.000004). Six stool specimens yielded Listeria monocytogenes. Leftover turkey yielded L. monocytogenes, 1.6x10(9) cfu/g. All isolates were serotype 1/2a and had matching molecular fingerprints. Clusters of suspect cases were identified among attendees at 2 other catered events, but no additional cases were confirmed. This is only the third reported outbreak of L. monocytogenes-associated gastroenteritis in the United States. In cases of febrile gastroenteritis for which routine cultures for enteric pathogens are negative, clinicians should suspect listeriosis and should consider asking laboratories to retain stool specimens to expedite testing for Listeria organisms.

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