One person has been reported dead, while seven others in five provinces in Canada are now down sick as a result of the outbreak of Listeria, according to foodpoisoningbulletin.com.
The report however, said that the Public Health Agency of Canada is already working with local health officials to determine the source of the outbreak which began in September 2015. A breakdown of those sickened is made up of seventy one percent, which are female with an average age of 81. A further breakdown according to province showed that: Ontario (3), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).
Listeria is known to cause a serious disease called listeriosis. Some of its symptoms, which could take close to two months to develop, include the following; fever, stiff neck, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Individuals at the highest risk of this outbreak include children, senior pregnant women and those whose immune systems have been compromised. Listeria can cause or lead to stillbirth, premature delivery, miscarriage and infection of newborns among pregnant women.
“We are working with Public Health Ontario and our provincial partners to investigate current cases of Listeria monocytogenes infections. Some of these cases are also part of a federally led national investigation,” Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care and Dr. David Williams, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health said in a jointly issued statement.
Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but the agency says early diagnosis is key, especially for people in high-risk groups.
Foods that have been contaminated by Listeria may smell, taste or look normal. However, Listeria can survive and sometimes grow on refrigerated foods but can be killed by cooking food properly, which is quite unlike other or most bacteria.
Its mild symptoms may include, but not limited to nausea, or diarrhea, while severe symptoms can include headache, poor co-ordination, seizures or neck stiffness.
In the mild form of Listeria, symptoms can start day after eating a food that has been contaminated. However, in the more serious form of the disease, the incubator period generally averages about 21 days and can be up to 70 days.
Individuals at high risk of Listeria should adhere to safe food handling practices and avoid high risk food items such uncooked meat and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, ready-to-eat meats such as hot dogs and deli meats, and refrigerated smoked seafood and fish.
Individuals who have been found to be with Listeria, most of them women and with an average age of 81, became sick between September 2015 and early January 2016 and one of them has died; though, it has not been determined if Listeria was the cause of death.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the source of the outbreak has not been confirmed. However, pre-packaged leafy greens, salad blends, and salad kits are being investigated as possible cause of the outbreak.
While the risk of the outbreak to Canadians is considered low, it is important to stress that Listeria can cause serious illness to some high risk groups.