Department of Health

Health advice on listeria outbreak linked to NSW rockmelons

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victorians are being alerted to the symptoms of listeria after a national outbreak affecting 10 people was linked to rockmelons from New South Wales.

Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton said one case has been linked to Victoria.

"NSW authorities have withdrawn the affected melons from further sale and distribution," Dr Sutton said.

All states and territories are working together to investigate this national outbreak. All 10 cases consumed rockmelon prior to their illness.

The outbreak has been linked to a particular grower in Nericon, NSW. The company voluntarily ceased production on Friday 23 February 2018, shortly after being notified of a potential link to illness and is working proactively with authorities to further investigate how any contamination could have occurred.

If consumers are uncertain of the origin of a rockmelon it should be disposed of in the waste bin, not into compost bins to avoid further contamination.

Listeria infection is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, their unborn babies and elderly people. It can cause death in people with compromised immune systems.

Pregnant women should avoid eating pre-cut melons (such as rockmelon or watermelon) salads, cold seafood and cold deli meats, soft cheeses, soft-serve ice cream, dips and any unpasteurised dairy products.

Infection in pregnant women may be mild and a temperature before or during birth may be the only sign. However, the infection can be transmitted to the foetus through the placenta which can result in stillbirth or premature birth.

Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea. In immunosuppressed patients, listeriosis usually presents as a brain inflammation, brain abscess or blood poisoning. Pneumonia, and heart valve infections have also been described.

A Chief Health Officer Alert has been issued to medical professionals and health services.

For more information on food safety and listeria visit the Better Health Channel.

Reviewed 28 February 2018


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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