The European Food Safety Authority issued a report last week that European experts have noted an increasing trend in Europe of listeriosis since 2008, but they highlight that the number of affected people stabilized from 2014 to 2015.
Infections were mostly reported in people over 64 years of age. Listeriosis affected about 2,200 people in 2015, causing 270 deaths – the highest number ever reported in the EU. The proportion of cases in the over 64 age group steadily increased from 56% in 2008 to 64% in 2015. Additionally, in this period, the number of reported cases and their proportion has almost doubled in those over 84 years.
In the U.S. I am a bit too familiar with the horrors of the bug – especially on the elderly. I think we all recall the Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011. The CDC reported that 147 people were infected with any of the five outbreak-associated subtypes of Listeria. These people lived in 28 states. The number of infected identified in each state was as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (11), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (7), Montana (2), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4).
The number of outbreak-associated deaths totaled 33. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage. Ten other deaths not officially attributed to listeriosis occurred among people who had been infected with an outbreak-associated subtype.
Among people for whom information was available, ages ranged from less than 1 to 96 years, with a median age of 78 years. Most ill people were over 60 years old. Fifty-eight percent of the ill were female. Among the 145 ill people with available information on whether they were hospitalized, 143 (99%) were hospitalized.
And, it is very real:
And, four years ago today, Paul Schwarz an American hero died from eating cantaloupe.