Listeria monocytogenes has been detected in a batch of sliced ham served at a children’s hospital in an Australian state.

The batch of commercial sliced ham was given to patients and families in the Queensland Children’s Hospital from May 10 to 20. No cases of Listeriosis-related sickness have yet been reported in or to the hospital.

Contaminated ham was detected through routine food and safety testing at the hospital and removed from patient menus. Further testing is being done to determine the source of the bacteria.

Ham sandwiches were served on platters and in snack boxes in in-patient wards and the emergency department. Ham salads were also available in in-patient wards. Some parents and care givers may have eaten the sandwiches or salads.

The ham was not available to in patients on the Bone Marrow Transplant ward, who would be most at risk because of their immunocompromised state. Those of a high risk of developing listeriosis are pregnant women, the elderly, very young children, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Children’s Health Queensland is working with the chief health officer and the Metro South Public Health Unit to ensure the health of patients and families who may have consumed the sandwiches at the hospital. Patients and families who were in the affected wards and departments between May 10 and 20 are being contacted and made aware of the signs and symptoms of listeriosis. It can take up to 70 days for symptoms to develop.

Every year in Australia about 150 people are hospitalized because of listeriosis and about 15 people die, according to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

Signs and symptoms of listeriosis include minor complaints such as fever, headache, aches and pains, vomiting and diarrhea.

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