Health authority in the Australian state of Queensland on Monday issued a public health warning of Listeria, as the potentially deadly bacteria was detected in a commercial chicken product.
The alert also came a day after Queensland Health reported a Listeria outbreak in the state’s southeast.
The health authority said in a statement that M & J Chickens’ easy serve breast fillet shredded chicken has been identified by investigators as the probable cause of five Listeria cases across Queensland, three in New South Wales (NSW) and one in Victoria.
At a media conference held on Monday, Queensland Health Chief Health Officer John Gerrard confirmed that the strain of Listeria found in the chicken samples was the same as the isolates detected in the human cases diagnosed in Queensland hospitals.
He noted that the chicken product originated from Marrickville in Sydney and it was distributed in Queensland.
“At this stage, we do not know all the locations where this product has been sent. It is not a retail product, so it won’t be in your home kitchen. But there will be a lot of commercial kitchens, hospitals, restaurants, cafes, maybe nursing homes, and other places where food is prepared in large quantities,” said Gerrard.
The health officer also told reporters that as the incubation period can be up to two months, more cases would be recorded in the coming weeks.
Listeriosis is a serious infection in humans caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Even with prompt treatment, some patients may die of the disease, particularly among the elderly and people who have other serious medical problems.
Earlier this month, NSW Health reminded local communities to avoid foods that can cause listeriosis, after the state saw a rise in both the number of confirmed cases and the number of people treated in hospital for their illness.
“Already in 2023, we’ve recorded 25 cases of listeriosis among NSW residents, which is more than we usually expect to see in a whole year,” said Keira Glasgow, director of NSW Health’s One Health branch. ■