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It has recently been revealed that in some areas the NHS has served sandwiches that may be contaminated with listeria. Public Health England (PHE), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the National Health Service (NHS) have confirmed an outbreak of listeria, affecting nine people, including five who have died as a result of the infection.

So far, the following NHS Trusts have been identified as being affected:

  • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 2 cases
  • Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Although Public Health England has stressed that the risk to the public is low, The Good Food Chain, who are responsible for supplying the affected products lines, are known to supply a total of 43 NHS Trusts and one independent provider and since the incubation period of listeriosis is up to 70 days, the full scale of the outbreak is yet to be determined.

You can keep up-to-date with the listeria outbreak investigation on the Government’s official website.

If you have been affected by the listeria outbreak you might be entitled to compensation.

Contact our team for a free no obligation consultation. We will advise you if we can act on a no win no fee basis.

What is listeriosis?

Listeriosis is a rare, with an average of only 166 annual cases in England and Wales (based on numbers from 2008 to 2018), but potentially harmful infection caused by bacteria called listeria.

How can I catch listeriosis?

Listeriosis is most commonly caught when foods contaminated with listeria are consumed.  This is most commonly found in unpasteurised dairy products, soft cheeses and chilled ready-to-eat foods (the culprit in the recent NHS outbreak).

To avoid becoming infected, it is recommended that you:

  • Do wash your hands regularly, with soap and water
  • Do wash fruit and vegetables before consumption
  • Do store ready-to-eat foods in line with manufacturer recommendations
  • Do ensure all hot food is steaming hot all the way through
  • Do not eat food after its use-by date – even if it looks and smells normal

Additionally pregnant women are advised to avoid eating the following foods, which have the highest risk of causing listeriosis:

  • Some uncooked soft cheeses
  • All types of pâté
  • Unpasteurised dairy products
  • Any undercooked food

Pregnant women should also avoid coming into contact with farm animals that are giving birth or have recently given birth.

How do I know if I have listeriosis?

Listeriosis will often cause no symptoms, so it may pass without you even realising you were infected. In cases which do cause symptoms, you might experienced any of the following:

  • High temperature (38C and above)
  • Aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Complications can occur when the infection spreads to the bloodstream or brain and it is thought to be more dangerous in the young, the elderly, the pregnant and those with weakened immune systems.

What do I do if I think I have listeriosis?

If you have any of the symptoms, the NHS suggest that you should usually be able to look after yourself, at home. However, if any of the following apply, they suggest that you call 111:

  • You’re pregnant and think you have listeriosis
  • You have a condition (like diabetes) or are undergoing a treatment (like chemotherapy) that weakens your immune system and think you have listeriosis
  • You think your baby might have listeriosis

In these instances you might need a blood test to diagnose the infection and antibiotics to treat it, if it is identified.

If you have any of the following symptoms, it is recommended that you call 999, or go to A&E, as they could be signs on meningitis, caused by listeriosis:

  • A severe headache and stiff neck
  • Discomfort when looking at bright lights
  • Fits (seizures)
  • Sudden confusion
  • A rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it – the rash may be blotchy, like bruises or small red pinpricks

 

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