Infected by Listeriosis. Is rakfisk the culprit?

Rakfisk listerosisRakfisk (Fermented Trout) is a traditional Norwegian delicacy. Photo:

13 patients infected by listeriosis, rakfisk the prime suspect

Since November, 13 patients have been diagnosed with listeriosis in Norway. Most of them have eaten rakfisk (fermented trout), but it is too early to conclude that the traditional delicacy is the culprit.

“The work takes time and is complicated, and it is not always possible to find the source of infection, but at least eight of the patients have stated that they have eaten rakfisk before they became ill,” Siv Jorunn Nordlund informs. Nordlund is Section Manager in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, section food, in the Mjøsa area.

Bacteria with a similar DNA profile have been found in five of the patients at the moment.

Most of the sick persons live in Hedmark, Oppland and Buskerud, and are older than 70 years old with an impaired general condition, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet).

Risk groups are warned

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority now repeats the advice that elderly people with impaired health, pregnant women and persons with impaired immune systems should avoid foods that may contain listeria.

The bacterium is usually transmitted through food, especially refrigerated, long-life foods that are eaten without being heated up. Much of this has been found on Christmas tables, such as rakfisk and soft and semi-soft cheeses, such as brie, camembert and other mouldy cheeses.

In addition to these, risk groups should avoid the following foods, or at least eat them as fresh as possible and definitely not after the date of expiry:

  • Smoked and Dry-cured (gravlaks) salmon.
  • Cold cuts (boiled ham and the like).
  • Raw meat, dry-cured meat, tartar, and cured meat, (bacon sausage, black pudding etc).

GPs must be on their toes

Listeriosis can cause various symptoms such as diarrhoea, mild flu-like ailments, blood poisoning or meningitis. The bacterium can also infect from mother to child during pregnancy and lead to serious foetus diseases.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) asks physicians to pay particular attention to symptoms of listeriosis infection.

At the same time, they emphasise that most people are tolerant of food that contains the listeria bacteria.

Four previous outbreaks of listeriosis are described in Norway, where rakfisk, organic camembert cheese, and cold-cuts were the suspected cause of the infection, according to the institute.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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