Listeriosis is a rare illness caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. The Listeria bacteria are common in the environment and some raw foods. Eating foods that contain Listeria bacteria does not cause illness in most people. There are typically 20 to 30 cases of listeriosis reported each year in NSW. Although listeriosis is rare, it has a high death rate.
Listeria are widespread throughout nature, being commonly carried by many species of both domestic and wild animals. Raw meat, unpasteurised milk, raw fruit and vegetables can be contaminated with the bacteria. People who are at risk can contract listeriosis through eating food contaminated with the Listeria bacteria. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during the pregnancy. Outbreaks of illness have been associated with raw milk, soft cheeses, pre-prepared salads (for example, from salad bars), unwashed raw vegetables, paté, cold diced chicken, rockmelon and pre-cut fruit and fruit salad.
To prevent listeriosis:
People at increased risk of listeriosis should not eat:
The diagnosis of listeriosis can be confirmed by blood or other tests requested by a doctor.
For further information please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055