Toi Te Ora Public Health confirms an elderly Bay of Plenty person died from the food bug listeria in Tauranga Hospital earlier this month and another case has also been reported.
Bay of Plenty Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack confirms two cases of listeria infections have been reported to the public health unit this month.
He says after an extensive investigation the health authority is confident people contracted listeria, a food-transmitted illness, while in the community, not through food in Tauranga Hospital.
This investigation follows the death of two elderly women in the Hawke’s Bay who died after contracting listeria through food supplied to the Hawke’s Bay hospital.
Phil says the cases are not linked as far as they can determine. He says this is the usual pattern with listeria.
“We’re confident that each of them got their infection in the community but because they were sufficiently unwell, were admitted to hospital for treatment.
“In other words, they did not get the infection in hospital. We’ve done some extensive investigations and to date we have found nothing to link them to the Hawke’s Bay cases or the recalled meat products.”
“In fact it’s the usual pattern with a lot of notifiable diseases linked to food. But from time to time there are linked outbreaks and in the Hawke’s Bay it seems they’ve uncovered a link with some of their cases.”
The listeria is believed to have originated in food supplied to the hospital.
The affected products have since been recalled from shops as they may contain the bacteria causing the disease.
Manufacturers of Bay Cuisine/Mad Butcher ‘ready-to-eat’ meats are currently recalling products due to the possible contamination of listeria.
The recall is listed on Consumer.org.nz and says the products are sold throughout The Mad Butcher store nationwide and Preston’s stores in Wellington, Porirua and Palmerston North.
Phil says listeria is a severe infection that can be fatal.
“The people who are more susceptible to listeria tend to be elderly, or who have chronic health issues, which often means they are on medications which can affect their immune system, therefore it makes them susceptible.”
Symptoms of listeria include sever vomiting and diarrhoea, which can sometimes develop into blood poisoning.
A person gets very unwell, has a high fever and usually needs hospitalisation for treatment, says Phil.
He says anyone with severe diarrhoea and vomiting should seek medical attention.
“Fortunately, we are aware of the sort of at risk foods which are associated with listeria.
“It’s not a common infection and we don’t get that many cases but it is known that the foods that are more at risk are the delicatessen type foods, salamis, cold meats and unpasteurised dairy products.”