One killed and dozens hospitalised by listeriosis outbreak while authorities squabble

Virgen del Rocío hospital in Seville where one person died.
Virgen del Rocío hospital in Seville where one person died. / EP
  • The outbreak, Spain's worst ever, has caused one death so far and is being blamed on a type of pork meat prepared by a company in Seville

Different public authorities have been exchanging accusations this week over who could have done more to avoid and contain an outbreak of listeriosis in Andalucía that has turned into Spain's worst.

One 90-year-old woman died in hospital in Seville on Tuesday, and on Thursday, 82 were in hospital, including 28 pregnant women. In total, 161 cases had been identified in Andalucía, mostly in Seville, and several more elsewhere in Spain .

Listeriosis is a bacteria particularly dangerous for more vulnerable people, such as the elderly and children.

The outbreak has been traced to a type of processed pork known as ‘carne mechada’ made under the La Mechá brand of a Seville-based company. All that company’s products have now been withdrawn from sale.

The Junta regional government’s health department has criticised Seville council’s laboratory for delays in analysing samples that prevented the alert going out sooner. In turn, Seville has blamed the Junta’s staff for failing to properly label the samples sent to it.

The acting minister for Health nationally also entered the argument by appearing to question how well procedures had been followed and officially informed the World Health Organization of the outbreak.

On Thursday, as the outbreak appeared to be stabilising, inspectors were ordering all shops that had stocked the meat to check their cutting machines on their counters for fear of secondary contamination.