Case of listeria at SGH not linked to rockmelons from Australia

Case of listeria at SGH not linked to rockmelons from Australia

The Singapore General Hospital. (Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A case of listeria at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is not linked to the consumption of rockmelons, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has clarified.

"To date, there have been no reported cases of listeriosis linked to the consumption of rockmelons in Singapore," an MOH statement said. 

"While MOH was notified by SGH of a case of listeriosis on Mar 6, preliminary investigations found that there was no link between the case and the consumption of rockmelons."

Further tests are ongoing to determine the source of infection, the ministry added.

In Australia, four people have died and 13 others fell ill after consuming melon contaminated with listeria. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority announced a recall of all rockmelons from Australia as a "precautionary measure" on Thursday. Malaysia has also temporarily banned rockmelons imported from Australia.

MOH has informed doctors to refer suspected cases of listeriosis for testing and treatment and to notify MOH of suspected cases. 

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely," the statement said.


Listeriosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by the consumption of contaminated food and cannot be spread from person to person. There is an incubation period of three to 70 days.

MOH advised consumers to seek medical attention early if they develop fever and muscle aches, preceded by diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The infection can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.

However, not all who consumed listeria-contaminated food get sick and many experience only mild symptoms.
Pregnant women, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk of serious disease, which could include brain and heart infections or complications in a foetus or newborn.
Listeriosis is caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which is found in soil, water, effluent and the faeces of humans and animals. Food items which could be contaminated by the bacteria include raw or ready-to-eat foods, such as unpasteurised milk, raw meat and their products, seafood, fruits and vegetables.

The ministry said that hand hygiene and the safe handling, cooking and consumption of food can reduce the risk of getting listeriosis and provided some tips to follow: 
•    Thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits before eating, peel them if necessary
•    Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources
•    Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked and ready-to-eat food
•    Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods made from raw milk
•    Wash hands and kitchen utensils such as knives and cutting boards after handling raw food
•    Use separate sets of knives and cutting board for raw and cooked food

Source: CNA/hm