Listeria death prompts warning for pregnant women

Warning to pregnant women after woman dies from Listeria in Victoria

Pregnant women are once again being urged to be vigilant about the food they’re eating, following the death of a woman in her 80s from listeria poisoning. A Victorian commercial caterer, which supplies food to private hospitals, has been ordered to suspend production while the source of the infection is investigated.

The Victorian Department of Health says the Dandenong South commercial caterer provides food to private hospitals, aged care facilities and Meals on Wheels services the north-eastern and south-east suburbs of Melbourne, Traralgon and Ballarat.

The facilities have been urged to dispose of any food produced by the caterer between 13 January 2019 and 21 February 2019.

Pregnant women, their unborn babies and newborn babies are at an increased risk of listeriosis. Symptoms in pregnant women can be mild, and the only sign may be a temperature before or during birth. The infection can be transmitted to the unborn baby through the placenta and can trigger premature birth, or stillbirth.

What is listeriosis?

Listeriosis is a serious illness that develops after eating food contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria found in some raw foods.

What are the symptoms?

It can take between three and 70 days to show any symptoms, but usually, symptoms develop within three weeks and include:

  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • sometimes nausea and diarrhoea
  • collapse and shock
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • loss of balance
  • convulsions
  • coma

How to avoid Listeria?

According to health authorities, pregnant women should not eat:

  • pre-packed cold salads (including coleslaw)
  • pre-cut fruit and fruit salads
  • pre-cooked cold chicken
  • cold deli meats
  • paté
  • raw seafood
  • smoked seafood (for example, smoked salmon)
  • unpasteurised milk or milk products
  • soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, or blue-vein (unless cooked and eaten whilst hot)
  • sprouted seeds and raw mushrooms

Other ways to reduce your risk include:

  • thoroughly cooking raw food from animal sources, such as beef, lamb, pork, or poultry
  • washing raw vegetables and fruit thoroughly before eating
  • keeping raw meat separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods
  • use separate cutting boards for raw meat and foods that are ready to eat
  • wash your hands before and after preparing food
  • wash knives and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods
  • be sure to wash your hands after handling animals
  • perishable foods should be stored in a cold (less than five degrees Celsius) refrigerator and be washed and eaten as soon as possible

Read next …

Here’s what else you need to know about dos and don’ts in pregnancy:

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