September 19, 2017 — The Rhode Island Department of Health is warning pregnant women to avoid eating soft cheeses made with raw milk while they investigate 2 cases of Listeria infections.
Health officials did not provide any details about the 2 cases under investigation, but they did specifically warn pregnant women to avoid eating soft cheese made with unpasteurized raw milk due to the risk of infections with Listeria monocytogenes.
According to the health alert posted on September 13:
“Queso fresco, queso blanco, panela, and asadero-style cheeses are only considered safe when they are marked with a professional label stating that they are ‘pasteurized’ or ‘made from pasteurized milk.”
Homemade queso fresco also poses a serious risk if it is made with raw milk. Pregnant women are significantly more likely to develop infections with Listeria compared to other healthy adults.
Pregnant women may not have any symptoms at all, or experience only a mild flu-like illness before suffering a miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, or infection of a newborn.
The symptoms of Listeria infection may include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, and loss of balance, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems.
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