Spain’s health ministry has issued an international health warning over a listeria outbreak that has infected 175 people.
The bacteria was detected in a processed meat product manufactured in the city of Seville, in the southern region of Andalucia, according to an alert published Tuesday.
Listeria is a common bacteria that causes listeriosis, an infection that mainly affects the elderly, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems. In the US, an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill each year, and about 16% of those illnesses result in death.
A total of 175 cases were confirmed Thursday, of which 161 were detected in Andalucia, according to a statement from the ministry.
“My priority is to avoid the spread of the outbreak,” said Spain’s acting health minister María Luisa Carcedo, in a video watched by CNN.
The country has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission about the outbreak.
It comes during peak tourist season in Spain, with Andalucia a popular destination among visitors.
People can contract listeriosis by eating contaminated food or coming into contact with infected humans or animals.
Fifty people remained in the hospital on Wednesday, 23 of whom were pregnant women, according to Reuters.
Listeriosis infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or infection of the newborn.
The affected product has been withdrawn from sale, according to the health warning. This should reduce future cases and public health risks, a WHO spokesman told CNN.
“However due to the long incubation period of the disease, we can expect more cases in the coming days and weeks,” said the spokesman.
“So far we do not have any reports of international distribution of implicated products. This should limit the possibility of cases in other countries.”
Symptoms of listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, and sometimes diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems, and some patients suffer headaches, confusion, and convulsions.
At the beginning of August, a listeria outbreak in the UK killed six people who had eaten contaminated hospital food.
And in July, US retailers The Fresh Market and Target recalled some of their salads and sandwiches due to a potential listeria contamination.