First case of listeriosis confirmed after notifiable disease listing

Taipei-A man in his 80s was confirmed as having listeriosis on Tuesday, the first case in Taiwan since it was listed as a notifiable infectious disease in January, according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) Tuesday.

CDC physician Huang Wan-ting (???) said the man had a history of strokes and in late December 2017, sought medical attention suffering from fever and vomiting.

The man later lost consciousness, fell into a coma and developed meningitis, she said, adding that this reflected symptoms associated with listeriosis.

Listeriosis was confirmed after laboratory tests and the patient, though still hospitalized and receiving treatment, has made a gradual recovery, Huang said.

According to a CDC investigation, the man has not recently traveled and usually prepares his own meals, but did consume self-made canned fish, which he made by curing raw fish, prior to the onset of his symptoms. Although that meal is a focus of attention it has not yet been confirmed as the cause of the illness.

Currently, there is no vaccine to combat listeriosis. The severity of the disease after infection depends on the immune system, with those who have healthy immune systems less likely to develop listeriosis or if infected experience relatively minor gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

According to earlier CDC data the majority of confirmed listeriosis cases occur in those aged 65 and above, followed by the age group 45-64, with a few cases of mother-to-child transmission, adding that seniors, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, fetuses and newborns are more susceptible to infection.

Listeriosis is primarily transmitted by ingesting contaminated food, according to the CDC, adding that listeria, the bacteria that causes the infection survives and continues to grow at four degrees Celsius. It can only be killed when exposed to heat over 72 degrees, according to the CDC.

The most effective way to prevent listeriosis is to practice good dietary and hand hygiene, said Huang ,reminding the public to avoid raw food and thoroughly cook meat and vegetables.

When preparing food, separate chopping boards, knives, utensils and plates should be used for raw and cooked foods to avoid cross contamination, said Huang, adding that hands, utensils and plates should be thoroughly washed after handling raw food.

Avoid consumption of unpasteurized milk and milk products, consume fruit that has recently been prepared and avoid consuming expired food, Huang said.

The CDC urges anyone who experiences fever, headache and influenza-like symptoms, including nausea and vomiting or gastrointestinal issues, to seek immediate medical care. Patients also need to inform physicians of recent food consumption and travel.

According to the CDC, listeriosis was listed as a Category IV Notifiable Infectious Disease on Jan. 1, 2018. A notifiable disease is one that should be reported to the authorities so that relevant data can be collected and the disease monitored, enabling the issuance of timely warnings of possible outbreaks.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel