No risk of Listeria spread in Sri Lanka yet – health authorities

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Sri Lankan health authorities say there is no risk of Listeriosis caused by Listeria spreading in the country yet.

In a news conference held yesterday (22), the Chief Epidemiologist of the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Samitha Ginige stated that there has been no spread of listeria in Sri Lanka yet.

However, Dr. Ginige also mentioned that it is essential for the people to be aware of listeria in order to protect themselves from this disease as listeriosis can cause complications for immunocompromised people.

“Recently, many things have been reported in various media and social media about Listeria disease. Listeriosis is a disease caused by bacteria. This is not a large-scale epidemic,” he said.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the germ Listeria monocytogenes. People usually become ill with listeriosis after eating contaminated food. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

He said the disease is usually spread from person to person through contaminated food.

“Healthy people do not show any symptoms. But rarely complications can occur, especially for those who are pregnant, receiving treatment for various diseases such as cancer, kidney, etc., those who have long-term medical conditions and immunocompromised people. This is the condition of this disease.”

“This is just a minor upset stomach for many healthy people. But an immunocompromised person can have complications and develop brain fever and rarely even death. This disease spreads to humans only after the food is exposed to the bacteria and eaten. There is a risk of spreading this especially through milk and milk-related foods. ”

“Globally, the prevalence of this disease is very low. The number of cases is between 1 and 10 per million. Therefore, this is not a medical condition that should create an unnecessary fear of an epidemic situation. The first patient was reported from Sri Lanka in the last week of February. He is middle aged. Due to complications, he developed a brain fever and died. We have confirmed that it was due to Listeria.”

“Recently, only the aforementioned patient has been reported. There is no report of any other patient, but several other people who went to Sri Pada and became ill were hospitalized. Among them, two deaths were reported. According to the data we have, we could not find any connection between those two deaths and listeria. But the tissue tests are still being done on them.”

“Also, another person who went to Sri Pada and fell ill has now recovered. He also has no evidence of Listeria. Apart from that, no patient has been reported in Sri Lanka. Currently, there are no reports of patients suspected to be having Listeria from the samples tested. That is why it is said that there is no risk of Listeria spreading. The food and water samples we tested also did not report listeria.”

“Listeria bacteria is also spreading among animals. Such a thing can spread through food. Listeria symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and body aches. But listeria is not the cause of stomach upset. However, be careful about the food you eat and water,” the health official cautioned.

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