Four dead, 32 sickened in listeria outbreak tied to mushrooms from Korea

Four people have died and 32 people have been sickened in a listeria outbreak across 17 states that has been tied to enoki mushrooms, which were recalled Monday, according to health officials.

The contaminated mushrooms, sold by Sun Hong Foods, Inc. based in California, are imported from Korea and have been distributed to California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and Florida, according to a recall statement from the company.

But the Food and Drug Administration said its recent investigation found that since November 2016, people have been sickened by the mushrooms in 17 states. At least 30 of the 32 people who have reported falling ill were hospitalized.

The four people who died were from California, Hawaii and New Jersey.

Sun Hong Foods recalled the product Monday after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development found that a sample of the mushrooms was positive for the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

People infected with listeria can experience fever, muscle aches, headaches, loss of balance and other symptoms, which they will usually notice about 1 to 4 weeks after eating contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People at a higher risk from a listeria infection include the elderly, people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases, pregnant women and newborns.

Pregnant women with listeria typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, like fatigue and muscle aches, but an infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or complications after the baby is born.

Six pregnant women have been affected by the enoki mushroom listeria outbreak, according to the CDC. Two have reported miscarriages.

The CDC and FDA recommended Tuesday that all high-risk groups avoid eating any enoki mushrooms from Korea. They also advised that everyone avoid eating enoki mushrooms if they don’t know where they came from.

And restaurants and homes that had the recalled mushrooms in their fridges should thoroughly wash any surfaces they touched, as “listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces,” the CDC said.