Department of Health

Listeriosis outbreak update

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton has confirmed that the death of a third Victorian has been linked to a national outbreak of listeriosis.

This takes to eight the number of Victorians known to be affected by this outbreak.

"This latest case - the death of a man in his 80s - has only just been linked to the outbreak as a result of our microbiological testing," Dr Sutton said.

"And sadly, the investigation has also confirmed that a miscarriage has also been linked to the outbreak."

The Victorian cases were all in high risk groups and include four men and four women. There have now been three deaths in Victoria.

Dr Sutton said information to date indicated that all cases consumed rockmelon before the national recall of implicated rockmelons produced by Rombola Family Farms at Nericon near Griffith in NSW.

All affected melons were withdrawn from sale and distribution.

Rockmelons now available for sale are not affected.

All states and territories are continuing to work together to investigate this national outbreak.

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) other pre-prepared fruit and vegetable 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.

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

Reviewed 16 March 2018


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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