Fish-linked Listeria outbreak sickens 12 in UK

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A dozen people are part of an outbreak of Listeria in the UK linked to smoked fish.

The UK Food Safety Agency, Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are investigating the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes.

Whole genome sequencing has identified 12 linked cases of listeriosis since 2020, including six since January 2022. The sick people live in England and Scotland. The majority said they ate smoked fish. A pregnant woman was also affected.

Smoked fish is a chilled ready-to-eat food product that can be pre-cooked so often that it does not require additional cooking.

Change in Public Notice
Professor Saheer Gharbia, Acting Deputy Director of Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Safety (One Health) at UKHSA, said: ‘Listeria infection in most people usually goes unnoticed or can cause illness very benign gastrointestinal. However, it can have more serious consequences for some people, especially those with pre-existing health conditions that weaken their immunity and pregnant women.

Information for pregnant women has been updated to advise them to cook smoked fish thoroughly before eating it, even if the packaging says it has been cooked. Guidance for avoiding listeriosis infection is amended to include smoked fish as a high-risk product that must be thoroughly cooked before consumption by anyone in a high-risk group.

Tina Potter, incident manager at the FSA, said members of the public do not need to avoid smoked fish products, but should ensure the risks are reduced as much as possible.

“You can do this by keeping ready-to-eat smoked fish refrigerated at 5 degrees C (41 degrees F) or lower, always using the products according to their expiry date, following the storage and use instructions on the etiquette and cooking. or reheating smoked fish until piping hot,” she said.

About Listeria Infections
Foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell tainted, but can still cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Anyone who has developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctor of possible exposure to Listeria.

In addition, anyone who has consumed any of the recalled products should self-monitor for symptoms of food poisoning within the next few weeks, as it may take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle pain, severe headache, and stiff neck. Specific laboratory tests are needed to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people like cancer patients with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women have only mild flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, newborn infection, or even stillbirth.

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