Research UK – Listeriosis in England and Wales: summary for 2019

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This report summarises the number and characteristics of confirmed cases of listeriosis in England and Wales in 2019:

  • 142 cases of listeriosis were reported in England and Wales
  • incidence rates of listeriosis were highest in people aged 80 years and over
  • overall, the crude incidence of listeriosis was lower in men than women, but reported cases among men aged 60 to 69 were 7 times higher than in women aged 60 to 69.
  • pregnancy-associated infections accounted for 17.6% of all reported cases and, a third of pregnancy-associated cases resulted in stillbirth or miscarriage
  • among non-pregnancy associated cases of listeriosis, death was reported for 23 cases (19.7%), of whom 15 (12.8%) were known to have listeriosis recorded as a cause of death on the death certificate
  • incidence of listeriosis varied geographically, with the lowest incidence in East of England (0.14 per 100,000 population) and the highest in London (0.39 per 100,0000 population)
  • there were 4 listeriosis outbreaks investigated in England, including a national outbreak associated with the consumption of prepacked hospital sandwiches

Listeriosis remains a rarely reported disease, with 0.24 cases per 100,000 population. Despite a decline in reported cases in 2019, the number of outbreaks (4) of listeriosis remained comparable to previous years. The outcome of listeriosis in pregnancy remains severe with over a third resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth. Mortality amongst non-pregnancy cases remained high, with a case fatality rate of 12.8%. An early peak in listeriosis cases was identified as a national outbreak, and food incidents linked to sporadic cases were identified through the analysis of strain relatedness using whole genome sequence data.

As a predominantly foodborne infection, this severe disease is largely preventable. It remains imperative that sporadic cases of illness and clusters of disease continue to be monitored and investigated to inform the continued risk assessment of the food chain.

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