Toronto Investigates Listeriosis Cases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Toronto Public Health is investigating a Listeriosis outbreak as part of an ongoing provincial investigation related to recalled deli meats. To date, eight cases in Toronto are associated with the outbreak. The cases range in age from 42 to 94, with an average age of 70.

"We are asking people to check their refrigerator for any deli meats that are part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recall. If you are unsure of the origin of your deli meats, throw the food out," said Dr. Vinita Dubey, an Associate Medical Officer of Health for Toronto Public Health.

Listeriosis is a serious but rare illness caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Those most at risk of developing serious illness are pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems.

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Toronto receives an average of eleven reports of Listeriosis each year. About 20 per cent of those cases are fatal. Three individuals associated with this outbreak in Toronto have died in the past four weeks. All of these individuals had serious underlying health conditions, and Listeriosis was not listed as the primary cause of death.

Symptoms may start suddenly and include vomiting, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, severe headache, constipation or fever. Symptoms usually occur within three weeks of eating foods contaminated with Listeria.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Healthy individuals may only experience mild symptoms and usually recover completely. Depending on the form of the disease, treatment may take up to six weeks or more. There is no vaccine to prevent Listeriosis.

Toronto Public Health earlier this week issued a Surveillance Alert to hospitals, long-term care facilities, and doctor’s offices to ensure they are aware of the outbreak.

Toronto Public Health inspectors have also contacted long-term care facilities and retirement homes to ensure that none of the recalled meats are being served. Inspectors are contacting day care centres that prepare meals, and are visiting small restaurants, delis and retailers.

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