Two residents in a retirement home in Ottawa, Canada, have died from listeria poisoning. The deaths are part of a month-long outbreak at the resident home.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says officials are investigating the outbreak at City View Retirement Community in Nepean. As of the last update on Tuesday, there were four confirmed cases among residents of the home, including the two people who have died. 

High-risk foods, including deli meats, were removed from the home’s menu as of May 4, according to OPH.

OPH has conducted 10 site visits to the facility over the past month including multiple food safety compliance inspections and follow-up inspections, and at least one hazard analysis critical control point audit. None of the food tested by OPH has come back positive for listeria.

The investigation is supported by Public Health Ontario, as well as its laboratories, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 

OPH has submitted food samples and environmental swab samples to the provincial lab, which needs about one week to provide preliminary results and an additional week to provide final results.

In a statement, City View Retirement Community has said it is cooperating with investigators to help determine the source of the Listeria. 

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

It can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

Editor’s note: Jonan Pilet of Food Safety News contributed to this report.

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