All six outbreak victims were seriously ill hospital patients in England. So far, no cases have been reported from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
The Good Food Chain, supplier of the implicated sandwiches, has withdrawn sandwiches and salads linked to the illnesses, and has voluntarily suspended production at its Stone, Staffordshire facility pending completion of the investigation.
The outbreak strain was detected in a sample of meat from North Country Cooked Meats, a supplier to The Good Food Chain. The supplier and its distributor, North Country Quality Foods, have voluntarily ceased production.
Most infections with Listeria monocytogenes develop as a result of eating a contaminated food. A healthy adult may develop very mild symptoms – muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea – within 48 hours of having become infected, or may not experience any symptoms at all.
The elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems are susceptible to a more invasive form of Listeria monocytogenes infection, which can spread through the body and cause a fatal illness.
Some pregnant women who become infected with Listeria monocytogenes may miscarry; others give birth to infected babies. Historically, approximately one-half (50%) of babies infected in the womb or during delivery are stillborn or die as a result of the disease – usually from meningitis.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people at elevated risk for Listeria monocytogenes infections should avoid eating lunch meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats unless they are heated to 165ºF (steaming hot) just before serving.