Safety testing by food industry in Canada started since March, report says

Medical officer doubts listeria behind camp illnesses

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | 4:10 PM ET

CBC News


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Nova Scotia's chief doctor says he's almost certain a recent spate of illnesses at a camp near Amherst is not linked to a national outbreak of listeriosis.

Seven workers at Camp Tidnish got sick late last week. A camp spokeswoman said they complained of headaches, nausea and vomiting some of the same symptoms of listeriosis. The camp had some of the recalled meat, which is now being tested for the listeria bacteria.

But Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer for Nova Scotia, doubts listeria is to blame for the camp illnesses.

"From the type of symptoms we are seeing their duration, the underlying age and health status of the individuals we really don't believe that this is listeriosis," he told CBC News Tuesday.

"It's not unusual during the summer to see clusters of gastrointestinal illness in a summer camp setting."

Only one of the Camp Tidnish workers is still sick, Strang said.

People who eat foods contaminated with listeria may carry the bacteria and not develop listeriosis. Those at risk of getting sick are the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Federal public health officials confirmed 26 cases of listeriosis on Monday, including 12 deaths. None of the cases are in Nova Scotia, Strang said.

About 220 Maple Leaf Foods products are on a voluntary meat recall list. On Tuesday, Atlantic Prepared Foods Ltd. said it was recalling its Irving, Sub Delicious and Needs brand sandwiches, which are sold in the Maritime provinces.

Strang said there are about five isolated cases of listeriosis in Nova Scotia a year.


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