Status:
Active
Health advisory:
190004
Date Issued:
22 Feb 2019
Issued by:
Dr Brett Sutton, Acting Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Health professionals and members of the public

Key messages

  • There has been a confirmed case of listeriosis which may be linked to the consumption of foods supplied to an eastern suburbs private hospital.
  • A Dandenong South commercial caterer has been ordered to suspend production whilst the source of the infection is being investigated. The caterer provides services to a range of private hospitals, aged care facilities and Meals on Wheels services in the north eastern and south east suburbs of Melbourne, Traralgon and Ballarat. 
  • Affected private hospitals, aged care facilities and Meals on Wheels services are being urged to dispose of any foods produced by the caterer between 13 January 2019 and 21 February 2019.
  • Listeriosis is an illness caused by eating food contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. Although uncommon, listeriosis is very dangerous to those most at risk, particularly pregnant women and immunocompromised people. 
  • Listeriosis presents with flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and sometimes diarrhoea. In those at greater risk, there is a risk of sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia and endocarditis.
  • Consider listeriosis in patients with compatible symptoms and exposure, take blood or CSF for testing according to the syndrome, and notify the Department on 1300 651 160.
     

What is the issue?

There has been a confirmed case of listeriosis which may be linked to the consumption of foods supplied to an eastern suburbs private hospital.

A Dandenong South commercial caterer has been ordered to suspend production while the source of infection is being investigated. Testing on samples of some food produced by the premise has returned positive results of Listeria monocytogenes. The caterer provides services to a range of private hospitals, aged care facilities and Meals on Wheels services in the north eastern and south east suburbs of Melbourne, Traralgon and Ballarat.

Affected private hospitals, aged care facilities and Meals on Wheels services are being urged to dispose of any foods produced by the caterer between 13 January 2019 and 21 February 2019.

Who is at risk?

People who are at an increased risk of listeriosis include those who are immunocompromised, the elderly, pregnant women and their foetuses and newborn babies. 

Symptoms and transmission

The main route of transmission is through ingestion of contaminated food. Other routes of transmission include from mother to foetus via the placenta or at birth. The infectious dose is unknown. Healthy adults are usually not affected but may experience mild to moderate flu like symptoms.

Infection in pregnant women may be mild and a temperature before or during birth may be the only sign. However, the infection can be transmitted to the foetus through the placenta which can result in stillbirth or premature birth.

In immunosuppressed patients, listeriosis usually presents as a brain inflammation, brain abscess or bacteraemia. Pneumonia, endocarditis and granulomatous lesions in the liver and other joints have also been described. 

Prevention and treatment

It is not possible to test for listeriosis in people who may have been exposed to listeria but are not showing symptoms. Early recognition and treatment in symptomatic people is important in high risk groups, such as pregnant women and immune-compromised people. 

Listeriosis is diagnosed by isolation of L. monocytogenes from blood, cerebrospinal fluid, placenta, meconium, fetal gastrointestinal contents and other normally sterile sites. Immediate treatment with intravenous antibiotics should be considered in consultation with your local infectious diseases unit in high risk symptomatic patients. It is important to educate people in high risk groups about the foods likely to be contaminated, and about safe food handling and storage. See Listeria Food Poisoning for more information.

More information

Clinical information

Department of Heatlh and Human Services: Listeriosis

Medical practitioners and laboratories are required to notify all confirmed cases to the Department of Health and Human Services within five days of confirmation via

Consumer information 

Better Health Channel: Food poisoning - listeria

Contacts

Human illness: Communicable Disease Prevention and Control section at the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 651 160 (24 hours). 

Food Safety and recalls: Food Safety Unit at the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 364 352.