Listeriosis, the bacteria believed to have contaminated Blue Bell ice cream, is best avoided by safe food production. Here, a woman works to sterilize meat processing and packaging equipment at the Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. Reuters/Mark Blinch

Kansas health officials said Saturday listeriosis was just a contributing factor in the deaths of three hospital patients who became ill after eating Blue Bell ice cream products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday five people developed listeriosis after consuming products that may have been contaminated at Blue Bell's ice cream factory in Brenham, Texas.

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by contaminated food products, anything from raw meat or dairy to fruit and vegetables or seafood. Symptoms include fever, aching pains, convulsions and diarrhea.

Recent lab tests indicate at least three of Blue Bell's popular ice cream flavors, Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops, were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes listeriosis. The ice cream company has recalled those and a series of other products that may have been made on the same production line.

But Sara Belfry, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told the Associated Press listeriosis was not by itself responsible for the deaths of three adults but declined to provide further details, citing patient confidentiality laws. A previous announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated all of the five people who were infected were hospitalized for unrelated health issues, “a finding that strongly suggests their infections were acquired in the hospital,” the Associated Press reported.

The FDA advised consumers to avoid the following Blue Bell products: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, Great Divide Bar, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar, Cotton Candy Bar, Scoops, Vanilla Stick Slices, Almond Bars, 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars, 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars and 12 pack No Sugar Added Moomoo Bars.

If contaminated ice cream is already in the home, the FDA advised, consumers should “thoroughly clean” any affected areas.

“Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used,” the agency warned.