Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to smoked fish. This contamination could be particularly unsafe to people who are vulnerable to Listeria infection, including people who are pregnant, people with certain underlying health conditions and those who are taking medications that can weaken the immune system.
Most people do not have any symptoms of the infection, or will only experience mild symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea, which usually pass within a few days without the need for treatment. People who are pregnant are at increased risk of developing listeriosis which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe illness in their new-born babies. More serious infection, such as severe sepsis and meningitis, can develop in those with weakened immune systems or those over 65 years of age.
Whole genome sequencing analysis has identified an outbreak of 12 linked cases of listeriosis since 2020, with six of these since January 2022. Cases have been identified in England and Scotland, with the majority of these individuals reporting eating smoked fish.
FSS report that given the ongoing outbreak, as a precaution, information for people who are pregnant has been updated to advise that they thoroughly cook smoked fish before eating it. Advice for avoiding listeriosis infection is being updated to include smoked fish as a high-risk product which should be thoroughly cooked before being eaten by anyone in a high-risk group.
Source: FSS, 4 April 2022