Food & DrinkThree dead in Austrian Listeria outbreak

Three dead in Austrian Listeria outbreak

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Austrian authorities are investigating a multi-year Listeria outbreak linked to three deaths.

Käserei Gloggnitz has recalled a number of products in relation to the incident.

Cluster analyses by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) found eight infections have occurred since 2020 due to an identical Listeria strain. Three people died between 2020 and 2022.

AGES would not give any demographic details of those sick or a breakdown of cases per year but said the investigations were ongoing, with samples currently being whole genome sequenced, and results were expected by the middle of the week.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK) asked AGES to look into the suspected cross-state foodborne outbreak.

Initial findings point to a company in Lower Austria. Products that have already been released are being recalled and newly produced items may only be placed on the market after a negative result for Listeria and approval from food authorities.

Käserei Gloggnitz’s recall covers all kajmak, drinking yogurt and cream cheese products due to potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Kajmak is a type of cheese.

In 2021 in Austria, 38 laboratory-confirmed cases of invasive listeriosis were reported and seven people died with or from Listeriosis.

About Listeria infections

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for the food poisoning symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop. 

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

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

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