Impact of listeria on infants in B.C. documented

A new report shows that of the 78 residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia who contracted listeriosis in the past six years, 10 per cent were pregnant women whose infections put them at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The majority — nearly 60 per cent — of pregnant women diagnosed with listeriosis either miscarry or have stillbirths.

In a case described in the current B.C. Medical Journal, a pregnant woman in her 30s went to a Lower Mainland hospital complaining of a stiff neck, fever, back pain and headache. After arriving, she delivered a stillborn baby at 21 weeks gestation.

The authors wrote,

"Health care providers [want] better information for themselves and resources they could share with pregnant women. … The information provided to pregnant women by health care providers needs to be targeted and clear," and that as a result of the spring survey, BCCDC will start a project to better inform health care providers and their patients about food safety risks during pregnancy.

It’s a national embarrassment that statistics on listeriosis in Canada are either not available or hopelessly unreliable. Further, the call to action probably never would have gotten noticed were it not for the 24 deaths and dozens of illnesses in the Maple Leaf listeria outbreak. Pregnant women and other at-risk populations deserve better.