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Listeriosis cluster in Sydney linked to hospital food

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Three patients were diagnosed with listeriosis in different hospitals within a short period. Rapid molecular typing techniques and review of hospital menus using an electronic menu database allowed prompt identification of the source of infection and implementation of control measures that prevented further infections.

Clinical record

Between 4 and 12 April 2013, a public health unit in Sydney was notified of three patients in different tertiary hospitals in two local health districts (LHDs) who had tested positive for listeriosis. This unusual occurrence prompted concern that the cases might be linked through contaminated hospital meals because hospitals in these LHDs source food from the same suppliers. The public health unit led a public health investigation, which included representatives from the New South Wales Food Authority, OzFoodNet, two NSW reference laboratories, food services, dietetics services and hospital infection control staff, to determine whether there was a link between the cases.

Listeriosis is a notifiable disease in NSW, and cases are investigated in accordance with NSW Health control guidelines.1All listeriosis notifications in NSW between 2 April (when the first case was detected) and 25 June (70 days after control measures were implemented) were reviewed in the process of case finding. A case was defined as a confirmed diagnosis of listeriosis during this period…