Two deaths linked to listeria outbreak
Thu, 19 Jul 2012 6:14a.m.
By 3 News online staff
Listeria has killed one woman and may have contributed to the death of another in Hawke's Bay in the past six weeks.
Both women were elderly and had compromised immune systems. Two other people were also infected, but have recovered.
Samples of pre-packaged meat supplied to Hawke's Bay Hospital have tested positive for listeria, but the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board says it can't link that to the recent cases because it hasn't established where the people became infected.
The hospital withdrew all pre-packaged meat from its kitchen on July 10.
The first case of listeria in this outbreak was recorded on May 9 of this year, and the latest on June 29.
The DHB says each of the four cases were fully investigated by the Public Health Unit and no obvious food source was found during those investigations.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is now working alongside the DHB to establish the source of the outbreak.
Hawke’s Bay DHB chief executive Kevin Snee says the deaths are tragic for the families involved.
A recall notice was issued in yesterday’s paper for Bay Cuisine’s cold meat products, warning they "must not be consumed."
A DHB spokesperson says the company is the only supplier of pre-packaged meats to the hospital.
Listeria is a common bacterium which is widely found in dust, soil, water, plants, sewage and animal droppings.
It can cause fever, headaches, and diarrhoea, but Hawke’s Bay DHB director of public health Caroline McElnay says it is only dangerous to pregnant women, their babies, the elderly and people with a lowered immune system. Almost all other people are not harmed by it.
Dr McElnay says listeria has a long incubation period of up to several weeks, but it is very rare and there are only about 25 cases a year.
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