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Nine cases of Listeriosis confirmed in Colorado, resulting in two deaths.


Listeriosis breaks out in Colorado with disastrous consequences.

Three reported cases of Listeriosis, a deadly diseased which is caused by eating food contaminated by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, were reported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Thursday.

Since Thursday, six more people have become infected, resulting in two deaths. Because of the outbreak, state officials have issued warnings against consuming undercooked meat, which is the biggest known cause of Listeriosis.

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"Until we have more information about the sources of this outbreak, it is important for people to follow the standard (federal) guidelines" on listeria, Alicia Cronquist, a state epidemiologist, said in a statement. "People who are at high risk for Listeria infection can decrease their risk by avoiding soft cheeses such as queso fresco and brie unless they are made with pasteurized milk, hot dogs and deli meats unless reheated to an internal temperature of 165 F, refrigerated pâté or meat spreads, or refrigerated smoked seafood."

In the U.S., an estimated 1,850 people become infected with Listeriosis each year. It is one of the more uncommon diseases but can be fatal. People with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for catching Listeria, including pregnant women, the elderly and young children. Pregnant women are roughly 20 times more likely to catch Listeria than other members of the population, and about one third of all cases reported are in pregnant women. A pregnant woman getting Listeriosis can result in spontaneous abortion during the second and third trimesters or stillbirth.

Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, muscle aches and, sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Sometimes the infection can spread to the nervous system, and if it does, the infected person will likely experience headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.

Officials in Colorado have not been able to find the source of the outbreak. Seven out of the nine cases have been reported since Aug. 29, and two more people caught the disease in June and died from it, bringing the total death count for the summer to four people.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics and does not necessarily have to be fatal if it is caught in time. Epidemiologists are currently working diligently to find the cause of the outbreak, which has caused a 500 percent increase in confirmed cases of the disease in the last month alone.