Swiss health officials have reported a Listeria outbreak that began in June 2018, according to an RTS report (computer translated).  The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has identified 12 cases across the country, two of which are fatal.

Listeria monocytogenes, the common food-borne bacteria depicted in this illustration based on electron microscope imagery, can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labor in pregnant women. Image/CDC/James Archer
Image/CDC/James Archer

“What is unusual is that it is all cases of the same subtype of bacteria (serotype 4B). We counted twelve cases, which is not that much, but twelve of the same type in a short time, it’s not normal,” said Daniel Koch, director of the Division of Communicable Diseases at the FOPH.

Currently six cantons are affected by the listeriosis outbreak. In Neuchâtel, three cases were reported, four in Valais and others in Ticino, Zurich, Aargau and Schwyz.

An investigation is ongoing trying to determine the source of the infections.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.