Family anguish after learning of hospital listeria outbreak

By Corey Charlton, Morgan Tait

Test results showed traces of the bacteria in ready-to-eat meat products supplied to the Hastings hospital. Photo / Sarah Ivey.
Test results showed traces of the bacteria in ready-to-eat meat products supplied to the Hastings hospital. Photo / Sarah Ivey.

The family of a woman who died in a hospital listeria outbreak say they face a horrible situation after learning of the cause after her burial.

The elderly woman was one of two who died in Hawke's Bay Hospital after contracting the disease in June.

Two others who also caught the disease in May have since recovered.

Test results showed traces of the bacteria in ready-to-eat meat products supplied to the Hastings hospital.

Napier company Bay Cuisine - the sole supplier of ready-to-eat meats to the hospital - issued a recall notice for several products that may contain the bacteria.

Speaking last night, a member of the dead woman's family said it had been hard to come terms with the death of their loved one.

"We've only just got over her death and the funeral and everything.

"It's a horrible situation and now we just have to wait for the investigation to run its course.

"The hospital board have already been in touch ... and they have explained the situation.

"We know that my [family member] did have listeriosis meningitis but as far as I know the hospital board can't have done anything more than what they have done.

"I am happy with the way they have dealt with it. They did all that they could at ICU and the other things, they did everything they could for her."

Hawkes Bay District Health Board director of population health Dr Caroline McElnay said the outbreak was a "warning" to those at risk such as pregnant women, the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.

There had been no new cases. "It is important to note there have been no further notifications since the end of June, but as listeria has a long incubation period we are advising health professionals to be aware."

Dr McElnay said the hospital now cooked and sliced its own meat, and other changes might be likely.

Yesterday, it also emerged that one person has died of listeria in the Bay of Plenty this month, but health authorities have ruled out a link to the two Hawkes Bay deaths.

Bay of Plenty medical officer of health Phil Shoemack confirmed that the region's public health unit had dealt with two cases of listeria this month. In both, the disease was contracted in the community.Hawke's Bay Today, APNZ

- NZ Herald

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