The Halloween season turned sour for many in the U.S, when people became infected with the bacteria Listeria, from eating candied apples; a must on this occasion. So far the infection, termed listeriosis, has spread with a continuous increase in the rate of its incidence, well after the end of the holiday season.This increase is mainly linked with the fact that candied apples, present in preprocessed packaging, have a greater shelf life and are still widely available in stores around U.S.
Listeria monocytogenes is the only bacteria which causes disease amongst the six species. the organism is present in dirt and animal manure and can survive cold temperatures of the refrigerator. Oxygen is also not a limiting factor as the bacteria can survive with and without it. Normally, it targets newborns, children, pregnant women and older adults.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that 5 people who were infected have died while there are 28 people suffering from listeriosis in 10 states. the infections started in october and have continued through october and december, which has the CDC worried. They also reported that most of the people infected had been exposed to the same strain, leading to the suspicion of possible contamination of prepackaged candied apples in the companies. Since listeriosis poses a threat to life and can prove to be fatal, the CDC is making sure that it gets the message across to people who might have stored these apples, urging them to take precautionary measures and discard them.
According to the reports of the CDC, there have been 9 cases in which pregnant females have been affected. This is particularly worrisome since the organism has the potential to harm the unborn baby. There have also been cases of meningitis in some older children, which has led the investigators to believe that some apples may have been heavily infected.
There have been no reports of infections with apples and candied apples which have not been prepackaged, so the CDC advises to avoid only those which have been prepackaged, while the agency tries to locate the source.