Placer County health officials on Wednesday warned that a nationwide outbreak of listeriosis associated with commercially produced caramel apples may have extended locally.
Initial reports indicate that an El Dorado County resident recovering from listeriosis probably acquired the illness from a caramel apple purchased at a retail store in Placer County, said Robert Miller, the county’s public information officer, in a news release.
Since the brands linked to the outbreak, which has infected people in 10 states, are still being investigated, health officials are “strongly recommending that consumers avoid eating any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples,” Miller said.
Five deaths have occurred and at least 26 people have been hospitalized, with most of the infections appearing to have been acquired more than a month ago, according to the release.
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While no cases have been reported in Placer County, the link to a retail store in the county and the possibility of people giving caramel apples as gifts or storing them to eat over the holidays triggered the warning, Miller said.
“This reminder comes out of an abundance of caution,” Placer County Health Officer Dr. Robert Oldham said in the release. “We just don’t want someone’s holidays ruined because of a case of listeriosis.”
The symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. More rarely the infection can spread to the nervous system, causing headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.