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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday warned that one person has died and 13 others have been hospitalized due to a listeria outbreak linked to deli meats and cheeses. 

The outbreak, which has infected a total of 16 people so far, was detected in Massachusets, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California, according to the CDC’s latest update. 

Seven of the 16 illnesses were found in New York, according to CDC data. 

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However, officials cautioned that the actual number of sick people is likely higher than what’s being reported and that the outbreak may not be limited to the aforementioned states.  

So far, it’s believed that the meat and cheese purchased at deli counters in multiple states, “are the likely sources of this outbreak,” according to the CDC. Federal health officials say deli meat and cheese are known sources of listeria illnesses. 

The CDC said it’s difficult to identify a single food in an outbreak linked to deli meats and cheeses due to the fact that the bacteria spreads “easily between food and the deli environment and can persist for a long time in deli display cases and on equipment.”  

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A dozen people have already been interviewed by local public health officials. Eleven of them reported that they had eaten meat or cheese from deli counters. 

Five of the seven people who fell ill in New York told health officials that they bought sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location of the grocery store chain NetCost Market.  

Listeria outbreak

U.S. health officials said at least one death is tied to an outbreak of listeria food poisoning associated with sliced deli meats and cheeses that has sickened 16 people in six states, including 13 who were hospitalized.  (Elizabeth White/CDC via AP, File / AP Newsroom)

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However, “investigators do not believe that NetCost Market delis are the only source of illnesses because some sick people in the outbreak did not shop at a NetCost Market,” the CDC said, adding that “contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states.”

Elderly individuals, people who are pregnant and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness, according to the CDC. 

Healthy individuals can suffer from mild food poising symptoms such as diarrhea and fever, officials said. 

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