By MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON (AP) — Health officials are warning consumers to avoid prepackaged caramel apples after they were linked to five deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in 10 states.
The CDC says it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened with the same strains of the bacterial illness listeria, with 26 of them hospitalized. Of those who were hospitalized, five died. The CDC said listeriosis contributed to at least four of the deaths.
The agency said interviews showed that 83 percent of those sickened reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before falling ill.
Three cases of meningitis linked to the listeria were also reported in children, the CDC said. The three children were not among those who died.
Those who fell ill got sick between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27. CDC said it’s possible other illnesses have occurred since then. Christopher Braden of the CDC said the agency is still trying to determine the specific brands that were involved.
Two of the deaths were in Minnesota and one was in Texas, according to the CDC. The agency was not able to say where the other two deaths occurred.
The CDC said the illnesses also occurred in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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