Listeria Outbreak Sparks Investigation Across Australia

As an investigation is underway after separate listeria outbreaks emerged across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, chicken meat products have been identified as the probable source.

Mater Hospital Brisbane has confirmed that cases of listeria infection have been reported within its facilities. 

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Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has confirmed that nine cases of listeria have been reported across four Australian states, with five cases diagnosed in Queensland. 

“There is potential for further cases to be notified as part of this outbreak as it can take up to two months for symptoms to appear after eating food contaminated with listeria,” Dr Gerrard said.

“We are investigating several potential food sources, with tests currently underway.”

Listeriosis, the illness caused by the listeria monocytogenes bacteria, pose a significant concern, particularly to those in high-risk groups. 

While most healthy individuals can consume foods containing small amounts of listeria without adverse effects, the bacteria can be life-threatening for certain populations.

Experts say listeriosis is a foodborne disease transmitted by ingesting contaminated food such as ready-to-eat processed meats, packaged or freshly deli sliced meats like ham and salami, prepared salads, pate and shellfish.

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The symptoms of listeriosis can range from mild, such as fever, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea, to more severe forms, including meningitis and septicaemia. 

Pregnant women, their unborn or newborn children, and individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to the severe consequences of listeria infection.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent listeriosis, including:

  • Cooking food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry and fish
  • Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating
  • Avoiding soft cheeses, such as camembert and brie, and pâté
  • Avoiding pre-prepared salads and meats
  • Keeping raw meat, poultry and fish separate from other foods in the refrigerator and freezer
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces that come into contact with raw meat, poultry and fish
  • Washing your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, poultry and fish

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