Human foodborne listeriosis in England and Wales, 1981 to 2015

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Almost all cases of human listeriosis are foodborne, however the proportion where specific exposures are identified is small. Between 1981-2015, 5,252 human listeriosis cases were reported in England and Wales. The purpose of this study was to summarise data where consumption of specific foods were identified with transmission and these comprised 11 sporadic cases and 17 outbreaks. There was a single outbreak in the community of 378 cases (7% of the total) which was associated with pâté consumption and 112 cases (2% of the total) attributed to specific foods in all the other incidents. The proportion of food-attributed cases increased during this study with improvements in typing methods for Listeria monocytogenes. Ten incidents (one sporadic case and nine outbreaks of 2-9 cases over 4 days to 32 months) occurred in hospitals: All were associated with the consumption of pre-prepared sandwiches. The 18 community incidents comprised eight outbreaks (seven of between 3 and 17 cases) and ten sporadic cases: Food of animal origin was implicated in 16 of the incidents (sliced or potted meats, pork pies, pâté, liver, chicken, crab-meat, butter and soft cheese) and food of non-animal origin in the remaining two (olives and vegetable rennet).

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Foodborne illness
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Listeriosis
  • Outbreaks
  • Sporadic cases
  • Surveillance


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