Following the tragic deaths of two people after eating rockmelon contaminated with listeria, we have put together the following information to assist people in gaining a better understanding of what listeria is, how it is contracted, what the symptoms are and how it can be treated.
What is Listeria?
Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes. It’s an uncommon illness and occurs rarely (last case was in February 2013) but can be deadly if it causes septicaemia (blood poisoning) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain) and tends to be more severe in the young, elderly and pregnant women.
How does it spread?
Listeria is found widely in soil, water and vegetation, and can be carried by pets and wild animals.
A vegetable or fruit food product can become contaminated anywhere along the chain of food production: planting, harvesting, packing, distribution, preparation and serving.
What are the symptoms?
First, it’s important to note that eating foods that contain listeria bacteria won’t necessarily make you sick.
Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Treatment for confirmed infections involves antibiotics and supportive measures such as intravenous fluids for dehydration.
If you have concerns please see your doctor.