OTTAWA, Ontario – An outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes under investigation in Canada could be linked to a Listeria outbreak that has claimed the lives of two people and affected two dozen other individuals in the United States.

As of Aug. 23, a total of 24 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from 13 states, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention said. Two deaths related to the outbreak have been reported. However, public health officials have not identified a specific food item, retail outlet or restaurant chain as the source of the illnesses, according to CDC.

Listeria specimens were collected from ill people from July 20, 2017, to Aug. 1, 2019,” the CDC said. “Ill people range in age from 35 to 92 years, with a median age of 72. Sixty-three percent of ill people are female. Of 23 ill people with information available, 22 hospitalizations have been reported. Two deaths have been reported.”

Further, the CDC reported that “…Whole genome sequencing showed that the type of Listeria making people sick in Canada is closely related genetically to the Listeria making people sick in the United States.”

On Aug. 18, the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) stated that Rosemount Sales and marketing recalled Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat due to possible Listeria contamination. The Public Health Agency of Canada said whole genome sequencing identified the product as the likely source of the outbreak which was reported in three Canadian provinces.

As of Aug. 23, there have been seven confirmed cases of Listeria in British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1) and Ontario (5). The case patients became sick between November 2017 and June 2019. Six individuals were hospitalized. Public Health Agency of Canada said whole genome sequencing revealed that two listeriosis cases from November 2017 were identified as having the same genetic strain as illnesses that occurred between April and June 2019.

More recently, Rosemount Sales and Marketing launched a recall of additional diced chicken products on concerns the items may be contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected items are Rosemount brand “Cooked diced chicken mostly dark 13 mm - ½” (#18305), sold in 4.54-kg. packages bearing UPC of 2 06 20263 12002 0 and PACKDATE: 01/21/19.

CFIA said the products were sold in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario and may have been distributed to other provinces and territories.