In Santa Cruz, California, an 81-year-old woman died of severe listeria complications after eating prepackaged caramel apples contaminated with the bacteria. The woman bought the apples in Felon from a local grocery store which her family now plans to sue.
Shirlee Jean Frey (photo) went into a sudden coma on Thanksgiving morning and was declared dead five days later. The autopsy revealed listeriosis, a listeria caused infection, in her body.
Prepackaged caramel apples contaminated with listeria are responsible for 4 more deaths in 10 states, but the Santa Cruz death is the first to involve a lawsuit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the outbreak was contained but its cause is still under investigation.
Mrs. Frey’s family said that she had purchased twice prepackaged taffy apples at a Safeway store. A month later, she was declared dead at a local hospital. Doctors said that the most probable cause of death was a listeria infection that has proven to be a fatal blow to her already weakened immune system.
Brad Frey, the woman’s son, said that last month his mother had an accident and was rushed to the Stanford Hospital in Santa Cruz, where she was treated for brain hemorrhage and was sent back home.
“Our mom fell in the kitchen, nobody witnessed her go down, my dad heard the chair slide out, so we don’t really know why she fell,”
After another seizure, she was taken again to the hospital where doctors discovered the infection by analyzing the MRI scans. They said that they couldn’t figure out why some parts of the woman’s brain were visibly swelled. After the blood tests results came in, she was diagnosed with listeria infection.
Mrs. Frey died December 2. Her family didn’t know about the listeria outbreak when she died and still had in their home prepackaged caramel apples bought at the Safeway store. The Health Department promptly contacted Mr. Frey and took the apples for further analysis.
Mrs.Frey’s family had recently filed a lawsuit with a Santa Cruz court. Their attorney said that the family were seeking both compensation for the ‘the horror’ they had been put through and answers about how it happened and how could it be prevented.
Meanwhile, Safeway pulled all caramel apple suspected of listeria from its shelves.
Doctors say that listeria infection targets particularly people with low immune system such as infants, pregnant women and older people.
Image Source: NBC Bay Area