Deadly Listeria disease at Brisbane’s private Mater Hospital sparks fears contaminated food could have spread it further – with cases reported in four states
Contaminated food is believed to be the cause of a listeria outbreak at a major Queensland hospital, and there are fears at least two other hospitals could be affected.
Queensland Health is investigating an outbreak at Mater Private in Brisbane.
Two other unnamed hospitals in the Metro North Health District and Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Services District are also affected.
NSW and Victoria are also affected according to Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard.
“To date, nine cases have been reported in four states, all linked by genetic studies,” he said.
“Five cases have been diagnosed in Queensland and four of those people are residents of Queensland.”
Brisbane’s private Mater Hospital (pictured) is involved in a listeria outbreak which is also affecting NSW and Victoria.
Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the outbreak, with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes commonly transmitted through food.
“The source of infection is currently unknown, as no common food could be linked to all cases,” Dr Gerrard said.
The bacteria is widely found in nature and healthy people who ingest a small amount do not experience any symptoms.
However, authorities are concerned about the outbreak in hospitals because high concentrations ingested by immunocompromised and elderly people can lead to invasive listeriosis, which can be fatal.
It appears that those involved in the outbreak are all over the age of 40.
Infectious disease experts met with Mater staff this week and implemented a strategy to minimize the spread.
OzFoodNet, the federal government’s food contamination monitoring agency, is coordinating the national investigation and response.
WHAT IS LISTERIA?
Listeria is a bacteria known scientifically as listeria monocytogenes.
It is found widely in nature, including soil, plants, dairy products, raw meat and vegetables.
Exposure in healthy people results in no or mild symptoms such as stomach upset, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting that resolve within a few days.
Risk groups such as the elderly or immunocompromised can develop invasive listeriosis.
This more serious condition can lead to an infection of the blood (sepsis) or the lining of the brain (meningitis) which can be fatal.
Pregnant women are also advised that infection could lead to miscarriage or premature delivery.
What foods are at high risk of listeria contamination?
Raw meat, seafood, processed meats and pâtés
Soft cheeses, e.g. brie, camembert, feta and ricotta
Raw fruits and vegetables
A 3D illustration of the listeria bacteria
Soft ice cream and unpasteurized dairy products
Wash your hands before eating
Wash raw fruits and vegetables
Cook meats well
Keep an eye on food recalls