Listeria to blame for Prince George newborn’s death

Posted at 8:13 PM, Jul 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-30 06:38:49-04

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va -- A week after a nationwide recall was issued for fruit that tested positive for Listeria, a newborn in Prince George County has died from the infection.

Jenae Briggs told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil while there is no way to prove that her daughter contracted the bacteria from recalled fruits, she is drawing on her daughter's strength to alert expectant mothers about the dangers of some foods.

"She was perfect. Her face, her little lips... Everything about her was beautiful," Briggs said.

The young mother was due in July, but when she couldn't feel her baby moving, she headed to the hospital five weeks early.

"Five minutes after doing the ultrasound they came in and said, 'We have to take your baby - and we have to take it now,'" Briggs remembered as she sat in a swing in her back yard.


Kennedy Grace Briggs came into the world, but within 48 hours her health began to decline, and she passed away at just six days old.

"I found out my child had Listeria and she got it from me and I got it from contaminated food," said Briggs, who believes she contracted the bacteria from eating contaminated peaches.

While she will never know where the Listeria came from, just two weeks after her daughter's death, she found out about a nationwide recall for some fruits and vegetables.


The Virginia Department of Health said Listeria cases are uncommon, but they are more harmful for those with compromised immune systems, such as infants or pregnant women.

Those who are healthy may think they have the flu, In fact, healthy people who have contracted Listeria may think they have the flu, the Virginia Department of Health's Dr. Laurie Forland said.

"It can be a mild flu-like illness. It can progress to more serious illness, muscle aches, body aches, fever and gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea," Forland said.

Ryan Davis with the Virginia Department of Agriculture explained what happened when food  is recalled.

"The retailers responsibility when they receive a notification is to pull that product from sale and return that product to the individual that they purchased the product from," Davis said.

Davis said that decades ago, there were few recalls. However, these days there can be two to three a day, though not all the recalls deal with adverse health risks. Davis also said it is important to keep an eye out for recalls.

List of Recall Websites:

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services -- click on "Food Safety Recalls"

FDA Food Safety Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Alerts 

FDA list of recalls site .

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