Tainted Ice Cream Infects 3 in Texas with Listeria

(Reuters) Three cases of Listeria linked to tainted Blue Bell ice cream have been found in Texas, U.S. health authorities said on Thursday, with the recently discovered infections related to a strain thought to be a factor in three deaths in Kansas.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the three people in Texas had been hospitalized for unrelated illnesses and appear to have developed the disease from eating tainted ice cream made at a Blue Bell plant in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, it said.

The CDC did not give a location for the Texas patients but said they contracted Listeria between 2011 and 2014 and none died.

While the incidences occurred in the past, health officials first identified a cluster of the strain last month.

Since then, the Blue Bell plant has been temporarily closed and major grocery stores have recalled the product.

The strain identified in Texas is the same as that confirmed in Kansas, it said.

This brings to eight the number of people who contracted Listeria linked to Blue Bell products. The other five were in a hospital in Wichita, Kansas, and three of those patients died. Officials said Listeriosis was not the cause of their deaths, but it may have been a contributing factor.

According to the CDC, Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria. It primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and those with compromised immune systems. It can lead to death.

Blue Bell has issued three separate recalls of its products, and says it is working closely with federal officials from the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get to the bottom of the Listeriosis outbreak.

(Writing by Jon Herskovit; Editing by Lisa Lambert)