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Hospital listeria deaths probed


20 June, 2008  

A major investigation has been launched into the deaths of three people who all contracted the listeria bug at a Belfast hospital.

Belfast Health and Social Trust said a total of five patients in the Royal Victoria Hospital had been suffering from listeriosis.

It confirmed three had now died, but added that they were already seriously ill when they contracted the bug. The trust’s Dr Tony Stevens said the probe into the outbreak would determine if listeriosis was responsible for the deaths.

The trust reassured local residents that any risk to the wider community was small, as the bug is not usually passed from person to person, but through food such as soft cheeses, pate and cooked meats.

People who are in good health usually suffer only mild fever and diarrhoea from listeriosis, but it can be more serious in pregnant women or with those who are already ill.

As a precautionary measure some foods have been removed from patient menus in the Royal and other hospitals managed by the trust and it is investigating all possible causes of the outbreak.

The trust has asked relatives and patients not to bring food into the hospital and only eat food provided on the wards at mealtimes by hospital staff.

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Belfast Health and Social Trust