Listeria in Spain: 3 miscarriages, almost 200 sick

Lucy Domachowski of the Daily Star writes that three pregnant women have suffered miscarriages and nearly 200 people hospitalised with listeria as an outbreak of the infection grips Spain’s holiday spots.

A nationwide alert has been sent out after listeria, a bacteria which can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis, was suspected in packaged pork.

Two of the miscarriages happened in Seville and the other in Madrid.

One devastated mother lost her baby at 32 weeks, while the others lost their little ones just eight weeks into pregnancy.

Most of the 197 cases have occurred in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia but people have fallen ill across the country, from Madrid to the island of Tenerife.

Spanish authorities have said as many as five pregnant women may have lost their babies to the outbreak, and three people may have died – but stats are yet to be confirmed.

Fifth person dies in Australia’s rockmelon listeria outbreak

An elderly man has died and a woman has miscarried as a result of the nationwide listeria outbreak, which has been linked to contaminated rockmelon.

Amy McNeilage of The Guardian reports the Victorian man in his 80s was the fifth person to die as a result of the outbreak.

The source of the outbreak has been traced to Rombola Family Farms in the Riverina region of NSW, according to authorities.

There have been at least 17 confirmed cases of listeria linked to the contaminated rockmelon, including two deaths in NSW and three in Victoria.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Dr Brett Sutton, said all people affected so far ate the rockmelon before the national recall on 28 February. The latest cases have been linked to the outbreak through microbiological testing.

A miscarriage in Victoria was also linked to the outbreak, and a total 19 people – including those who died – had been affected across the country.

Third Listeria death linked to Australian cheese company

A third person has died following a listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced in the Australian state of Victoria.

Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Dr Michael Ackland, has confirmed the death of a 68-year-old New South Wales man in late January was linked to the listeria contamination of Jindi cheese products.

An 84-year-old Victorian man and a 44-year-old Tasmanian man have also died of listeria infection. A pregnant NSW woman miscarried. More than 20 listeriaother cases have been reported.

Jindi has voluntarily recalled all batches of cheese manufactured up to January 6.

The Newcastle Herald cited Dr Ackland as saying the outbreak, which has been traced to the company’s factory in Gippsland, was the largest the nation had suffered and one of the most complex. He described the process of tracking the outbreak to Jindi as ”an important piece of investigative work”, which involved obtaining food histories from victims and intelligence from OzFoodNet, the federal food diseases surveillance unit, as well as bacterial DNA tests to determine the strain of listeria.

On January 7, Jindi’s French-owned parent company, Lactalis – which bought the gourmet cheese maker from Menora Foods in November for an estimated $20 million – voluntarily committed to a quality assurance program jindi.cheese.listeria.13that ”significantly cranks up” its existing food safety standards and has satisfied Victoria’s chief health officer.

Jindi’s chief executive, Franck Beaurain, has not returned telephone calls from Fairfax Media for more than a week.

Pregnant Iowa woman miscarries due to listeria-in-cantaloupe

Mommies-to-be like their cantaloupe too. So the news of the first stillbirth linked to listeria-in-cantaloupe is expected, but nonetheless tragic.

The Des Moines Register reports tonight that a pregnant Iowa woman miscarried recently because of a listeriosis infection she apparently picked up from tainted cantaloupe, state health officials said today.

The unidentified northwest Iowa woman was infected with the same strain of listeria that has been spread via cantaloupe grown by Jensen Farms in Colorado.

The company’s Rocky Ford brand melons, which were recalled Sept. 14, have been tied to at least 18 deaths nationwide.

The woman told state investigators that she bought cantaloupe at an Iowa store a few weeks ago. Officials strongly suspect the melon came from Jensen Farms and caused her illness, but they haven’t proven the theory yet.

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the department’s medical director, said that for some reason, listeria bacteria are particularly harmful to fetuses, and infections regularly cause miscarriages.

Quinlisk said about eight or 10 serious listeriosis cases are reported in Iowa each year. She urged Iowans to take precautions to reduce their risk, but she said occasional bacterial outbreaks should not scare people away from the produce aisle.

Raw milk: save the family farm while making kids barf?

The N.Y. Times has a story running in tomorrow’s edition flaunting the value of raw milk as a way to save the family farm because a small percentage of people pay a hefty premium for the raw stuff.

The story lacks any mention of adverse health effects from raw milk , other than quoting an FDA type as saying, “raw milk should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason.”

Such proclamations are not particularly persuasive.

The story, like many others, notes that people want to know where their food comes from; but that doesn’t make food safer. Knowing how to control and minimize the spread of dangerous microorganisms makes food safer, whether it’s from around the corner or around the globe.

The Times story does however make mention of the Quebec listeria outbreak of 2008 that was traced to cheese made from unpasteurized milk, stating that “one person died; more than 30 became ill,” and proclaiming that the government went crazy recalling nearly 60,000 pounds, of cheese from hundreds of producers.

The Times story appears to be something about government out-of-control, although it’s a mish-mash.  And it fails to mention that the 2008 Quebec outbreak, led to 38 hospitalizations, of which 13 were pregnant and gave birth prematurely. Two adults died and there were 13 perinatal deaths. Recent research has demonstrated listeria can cause illness in fetuses and infants at much lower doses than previously thought.

An updated table of unpastuerized milk and cheese outbreaks is below.

Listeriosis leads to 2 miscarriages in Chicago area

Recalls of food contaminated with listeria are fairly common. Today, it’s sandwiches in Western Canada and frozen dough in Israel.

Also today, a reminder of why information about listeria needs to be rapidly, widely and creatively distributed.

Three pregnant Hispanic women in Chicago and suburban Cook County tested positive for listeriosis after becoming ill in late November and December, according to a release from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

All three women reported eating different types of soft cheese, the release said. One woman delivered her baby, who also tested positive for listeriosis, but the other two suffered miscarriages.

"It is very important that pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems avoid eating foods that are more likely to contain the Listeria bacteria, such as soft cheeses — including Brie, feta and Mexican style soft or semi-soft cheese — unless the product clearly states it is made with pasteurized milk," Dr. Damon state director of public health, said in the release.

Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About a third of all reported cases in Illinois happen during pregnancy. Infection during pregnancy may result in spontaneous abortion during the second and third trimesters, or stillbirth.

Pregnant woman miscarries because of listeria in Quebec cheese

Public health officials in Quebec say a pregnant woman in the province has lost her baby, possibly because of listeriosis.

Officials are still awaiting test results to confirm whether the woman who lost her baby was infected with the bacteria, said Dr. Horatio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health protection.

She didn’t lose the baby. It’s not like she misplaced the baby somewhere. The baby died because of listeria. Pregnant women should not eat a whole bunch of refrigerated ready-to-eat foods, but in the rush to promote raw milk cheese and food porn, those in charge forgot to remind those who are vulnerable of the risks.

Max Dubois, the owner of L’Échoppe des Fromages in St. Lambert, wants to know who will compensate him for the $40,000 worth of cheese inspectors seized and destroyed from his store on Saturday.

"Why could they not have organized a voluntary recall, as they do in France. Each cheese would have been sent away for analysis. We would have better been able to trace the spread of the bacteria. But now all the evidence has been destroyed. We’ll never know if it was spread through a distributor, or on the paper it was wrapped in, or in some other way."

Uh, France is no better. Here is the latest French cheese recall due to listeria.

Microbiologist Jacques Goulet, a cheese specialist in the food science department at Université Laval, says he, too, believes the government over-reacted.

"Listeria is present everywhere. But for most people, the risk posed by listeriosis is very low. Healthy people are rarely affected by the bacteria," he said, noting that the annual average of listeriosis cases in Quebec is about 50. (The public health department reported 63 cases in 2007 and 49 in 2006.).

Way to cite statistics. The people who got sick are real people who thought they were eating safe food.