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Listeriosis outbreak in Santiago de Chile

Thursday, April 9th 2009 - 08:01 UTC
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Santiago de Chile health officials promised information on the latest listeriosis outbreak in the metropolitan region with eight confirmed cases including one death and two miscarriages caused by the bacteria.

Andrea Olea, head of the Epidemiology Department from the Chilean Public Health ministry said that probably on Friday the results of samples taken at five different food companies suspected of products with the listeriosis strain will be made public.

Samples have been taken of produce such as dried meat, chicken, pork, pâté, ham and bologna said Ms Olea who added the investigation process takes time.

In each case “we ask the patient what he ate, where he bought it, if he remembers the brand and then we visit the factory and take samples. So far we have detected five processing plants, relatively unknown, not too big but we will not release names until the final report has been checked”, said Ms Olea.

The death case was an adult who developed a septicaemia situation following the intake of the listeriosis bacteria. To this must be added a foetus death and a miscarriage since foetus, newly born, elderly and people with low defences are the most vulnerable and exposed to the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes reported the epidemiologist.

Last year Santiago de Chile suffered another outbreak of listeriosis with 119 confirmed cases and five deaths. The origin of the contagion was tracked to soft cheese, from the “Chevita” brand, but according to Ms Olea “this time it’s a different strain”.

Listeriosis is described as a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, The disease affects primarily persons of advanced age, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, persons without these risk factors can also rarely be affected. The risk may be reduced by following a few simple recommendations.

A person with listeriosis has fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhoea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.

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