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CDC: 4 dead, 30 hospitalized amid listeria outbreak

California-based Sung Hong Foods has issued a recall of its enoki mushrooms. Photo courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration
California-based Sung Hong Foods has issued a recall of its enoki mushrooms. Photo courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

March 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is investigating a deadly listeria outbreak linked to mushrooms imported from South Korea that has killed at least four people and hospitalized 30 others.

The federal agency said Tuesday at least 36 people in 17 states have been sickened during the outbreak, including six pregnant women, two of whom suffered "fetal loss" due to the illness. The four deaths were reported in California, Hawaii and New Jersey.

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On Monday, California-based Sung Hong Foods issued a recall of its enoki mushrooms -- which are long, thin white mushrooms that come in clusters and are popular in Asian cuisine -- due to "the potential to be contaminated with listeria," according to the company's notice on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

The mushrooms come in packaging labeled "Product of Korea" on the front and "Sun Hong Foods, Inc.," on the back, it said.

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The firm issued the recall after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development found a sample of the mushrooms tested positive for the potentially lethal bacteria.

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According to the CDC, the first illnesses were reported between Nov. 23 and Dec. 13, and epidemiology and laboratory evidence shows the enoki mushrooms are the likely source of the outbreak.

The FDA is warning high-risk groups, including the elderly, people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases, pregnant women and their newborn babies not to eat any enoki mushrooms from South Korea, even if they are not included in the Sun Hong Foods recall.

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Symptoms of headache, stiff neck, confusion, fever and others usually show between one and four weeks after eating contaminated food, the CDC said.

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