Publications

2008 Listeriosis Outbreak


Dr. David Williams, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released his Report on the Management of the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak in Ontario.

On August 20, 2008, Dr. Williams advised the public of a listeriosis outbreak in the province. Listeriosis is caused by Listeria monocytogenes,a bacterium that is widespread in the environment -- found in soil, water, mud, forage and silage. The listeriosis outbreak eventually affected people in seven provinces across Canada. By December, when the outbreak was declared over, 56 confirmed cases had been reported and 21 people had died. Of all the provinces, Ontario was the hardest hit. Forty one of the cases and 16 of the deaths were in Ontario.

Listeriosis is a reportable disease in Ontario. Using a public health surveillance system instituted post-SARS, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) was able to quickly identify that there were a higher than normal number of cases of listeriosis being reported in Ontario. The source of the outbreak was two production lines at a Maple Leaf Foods packaging plant in Toronto.

The ministry is committed to continually enhance its capacity to protect public health during outbreaks. As part of that commitment, the Chief Medical Officer of Health established the Provincial Listeriosis Outbreak Review Committee to review the way the public health system responded to the outbreak, identify strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations to improve the management of outbreaks caused by foodborne illness.

Resources
Read the news release and backgrounders
Learn more about Listeria
Learn more about food safety
Contact your local public health unit

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