Thirteen people have died as a result of an outbreak of listeria in Denmark

COPENHAGEN – Over the last few weeks a listeria outbreak was registered in Denmark, killing 13 people so far. The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes is believed to have come from contaminated sausages. The number of cases confirmed is 29 at the present.

All of the deceased were also patients of other severe illnesses. Listeria itself is not deadly, yet combined with a poor immune system, it can result in death. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women, children and the elderly. A healthy individual infected could undergo the symptoms of high temperature, diarrhoea and vomiting that should pass within three days and medical help would not be needed.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Association (DVFA) shut down the production of the deli meats by the company Jørn A. Rullepølser that was believed to be the source of the outbreak. The Senior Scientist of the State Serum Institute (SSI) Steen Ethelberg assured The Global Panorama (TGP) that the risk of becoming infected is no longer present as the source of infection had been shut down on August 11. However, he marked that “because of the long incubation period of listeria infections and the time it takes to perform the diagnosis and typing of strains, we expect the case count to rise for maybe another two to three weeks.”

SSI is working on the genome sequencing for the bacteria causing the infection. Ethelberg told TGP that “we know of more recently diagnosed listeria patients in Denmark where we’re currently getting the strains in, in order to perform WGS (Whole Genome Shotgun) – and more outbreak cases will therefore possibly be confirmed next week.”

For the present, DVFA and SSI are encouraging caution in the consumption of raw meat. At the same time it is stressed that the listeria infection may not have been the main cause of death for the people that passed away.

— Radvile Dauksyte, Correspondent (Europe)

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