Fears for tourists’ safety over serious Listeria outbreak in Spain

An international warning has been issued after a killer listeria outbreak in Spain has infected more than 150 people.

The Spanish health ministry has issued the warning to EU authorities and the World Health Organisation amid fears for tourists’ health after a 90-year-old woman died from listeriosis - the disease caused by the bacteria.

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The first casualty of the disease was announced on August 15.

What parts of Spain have been affected?

Some 80 million people visit Spain every year, and it is one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers.

On top of the 150 people known to be infected, the ministry has confirmed that it is also investigating another 523 suspected cases.

Most of the cases reported have been in the south of the country in the Andalusia region, near Malaga, where a packaged pork plant that has been linked to an outbreak is located.

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But there have also been reports of cases in the Catalonia region in the north east of the country near Barcelona, and 50 people remain hospitalised from the infection in total.

What causes Listeriosis?

Listeriosis is caught when a person eats food contaminated with listeria bacteria.

It has most commonly been found in unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses and chilled ready-to-eat snacks like pre-packed sandwiches.

It usually causes mild illness, however it is more dangerous to those with weaker immune systems and pregnant women.

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Of the 50 people currently hospitalised, 23 of them are pregnant women.

The packaged meat plant believed to be linked to the outbreak is being inspected by Spanish officials after lab tests showed the presence of listeria.

Maria Luisa Carcedo, acting health health minister, said: "Obviously there was a failure to follow the established procedures.

"Now we need to carry out the inspections and investigations to figure out exactly where this failure took place."

The outbreak in Spain comes not long after six people in the UK died from listeriosis after eating contaminated hospital food.