Sunday Apr 20 11:58 AEST
Pregnant women need to watch what they eat following a rise in cases of the disease listeriosis
which causes miscarriage, the NSW government says.
State Health Minister Reba Meagher said the warning was being issued following a fourth
case of illness in a pregnant woman this year.
"Normally, we see between one and four cases per year in pregnant women, so four cases
already is quite concerning," she said in a statement.
"No links have been identified among the cases and the increase appears to be coincidental.
Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and infection of the newborn."
NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Jeremy McAnulty said that although rare,
the illness could also affect people with suppressed immunity and the elderly.
"Food such as undercooked or raw meat, soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk or pre-prepared or
unwashed vegetables can be contaminated with the bacteria," he said.
"Signs of listeriosis include flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea
that can sometimes lead to septicemia, meningitis and in some cases, miscarriage in pregnant women."
Cases of listeriosis have also increased in the general population with 18 cases reported since
January, double the number of cases recorded for the same period last year.
NSW Food Authority Chief scientist Dr Lias Szabo said pregnant women should eat freshly
cooked food and well-washed, freshly prepared fruit and vegetables.
"It is important to thoroughly cook raw meats and wash raw vegetables and fruit before eating.
Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and, most importantly, wash your hands before and
after handling food," she said.