Quebec man died of listeriosis, federal health agency confirms

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Last Updated: Monday, March 16, 2009 | 9:06 PM CT

CBC News

The Public Health Agency of Canada says a Quebec man recently died of listeriosis linked to the 2008 countrywide outbreak, bringing the total number of deaths to 21.

The agency said in a release Friday that the Quebec Health Ministry had reported a new case of listeriosis in an individual who became sick in November 2008 and died in January.

After reviewing information from Quebec health authorities, the federal agency said it has determined that the case meets the criteria established for last year's outbreak of the food-borne illness which was linked to Maple Leaf Foods meat products produced at a Toronto plant and can be considered a confirmed case.

"The strain of listeriosis from this newly reported case matches the 2008 outbreak strain and the timing of the illness falls within the incubation timeline of the outbreak," the agency said.

According to the agency, in the outbreak, there have been a total of 57 confirmed cases of listeriosis and 21 cases where listeriosis was the underlying or contributing cause of death.

However, while the latest death is considered to be part of the 2008 outbreak, the source of the individual's infection could not be confirmed, the agency said.

"Determining with certainty what the individual ate last year was not possible," the agency said.

The agency also stressed that the outbreak is over. "There is currently no listeriosis outbreak ongoing in Canada at this time."

Each year, between 100 and 140 cases of listeriosis are reported in Canada, the agency said. For most people, the rise posed by listeria is very low. Healthy people who are exposed to the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, commonly referred to as listeria, are rarely affected, but the risks are higher for infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.



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