The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of listeria in Eastern Canada that has put seven people in hospital.
Seven cases of Listeria monocytogenes have been tied to the outbreak: three in Ontario, one in Quebec, one in New Brunswick, one in Prince Edward Island and one in Newfoundland and Labrador, the release noted. Individuals became sick between September 2015 and early January, the health agency reported. Seventy-one percent of the cases affected women with an average of 81 years, according to the release.
Listeria is a bacterium that causes a serious infection called listeriosis. Around 300 deaths are caused by Listeria infection each year, according to estimates from a 2011 CDC report.
Listeria bacteria are most commonly found in raw foods. Vegetables can be contaminated by soil and water carrying bacteria. Listeria is also found in raw animal products, such as meat and cheese.
Babies can be born with Listeria if the mother eats contaminated food during pregnancy. The death rate among newborns with Listeria is 25 to 50 percent.
If you’ve eaten a food that’s been recalled because of a listeria outbreak, pay close attention to any possible signs or symptoms of illness. If you experience fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea, contact your doctor. The same goes for illness after eating a potentially contaminated product, such as foods made with unpasteurized milk or poorly heated hot dogs or deli meats.
If you experience a high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion or sensitivity to light, seek emergency care. These signs and symptoms may indicate bacterial meningitis, a life-threatening complication of a listeria infection.