Pensioner dies in listeria outbreak
An elderly patient has died in an outbreak of listeria in two Northern Ireland hospitals.
The pensioner was one of two patients in the Antrim Area Hospital that contracted the food-borne bacteria. Another acquired the bug in the Causeway Hospital on the region's north coast.
The patient who died was already ill but listeria has been confirmed as a contributory cause of death.
Both hospitals are managed by the Northern Trust, which has declared an outbreak.
The trust's Director of Nursing Olive MacLeod said: "The person who died was a frail, elderly patient who had other illnesses but this listeria infection did contribute to their death."
Listeria is usually associated with refrigerated food stuffs. Chilled meats, soft cheeses, cold cuts of meat, pates and smoked fish are all potential sources.
Ms MacLeod said a full investigation was under way but said the hospitals were satisfied with how cold food was managed. She said listeria was "uncommon" in a hospital setting.
"Normally there would be between three to five cases of listeria per annum in Northern Ireland," she added.
"Because these three cases have occurred within a short period of time, we are declaring an outbreak. At this point we cannot confirm if all three cases are the same strain, further laboratory testing is required and being undertaken."
The trust is working with the Public Health Agency and Environmental Health Officers in relevant councils to investigate potential sources. A series of measures have been introduced in response to the outbreak with visitors to the hospitals being told not to bring food in from the outside.