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Joint Statement from Minister of Health and Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health on Listeria Monocytogenes Cases

News Release

Joint Statement from Minister of Health and Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health on Listeria Monocytogenes Cases

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Today, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care and Dr. David Williams, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement:

"We are working with Public Health Ontario and our provincial partners to investigate current cases of Listeria monocytogenes infections. Some of these cases are also part of a federally led national investigation.

To date, the source of these Listeriosis infections has not been confirmed. We will update the public as new information from the ongoing investigation becomes available.  

At this time, the risk to Ontarians is low, but given that Listeria can cause severe illness to some high-risk groups, we ask you to review and follow proper safe food handling practices in an effort to prevent illnesses.                                                                                                     

We will continue to work closely with our partners and will provide additional updates as more information becomes available. The safety of Ontarians is our top priority."

 Additional background on Listeria / Listeriosis:

Some people face a higher risk of becoming sick with Listeria than others. Those who are at highest risk of serious illness include pregnant women and their unborn/newborn children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. High-risk individuals should follow safe food handling practices and avoid high risk food items such as:

  • Uncooked meat and vegetables including pre-packaged leafy greens 
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses and other food made from unpasteurized milk
  •  Ready-to-eat meats such as hot dogs, pâté and deli meat
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood and fish

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be found in food, soil, plants, sewage and other places in nature. Eating food with Listeria on it can cause a serious disease called listeriosis. People can get listeriosis by eating meat, fish, dairy products, plants or vegetables contaminated with Listeria.

Following safe food handling practices is the key to preventing Listeria and the spread of foodborne illnesses. Foods that are contaminated with Listeria may look, smell and taste normal. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can survive and sometimes grow on foods being stored in the refrigerator. Listeria can be killed by cooking food properly, and illnesses can be avoided by following these food safety practices.

Many people are exposed to Listeria, but only a few will actually develop listeriosis. Mild symptoms may include:   

  • Fever 
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Poor coordination
  • Seizures
  • Neck stiffness

Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but early diagnosis is key, especially for people at high risk, such as pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

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  • Shae Greenfield

    Minister's Office

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