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2 Singaporeans infected by bacteria strain similar to Australia outbreak

TWO people in Singapore were infected by a listeria bacteria strain similar to a patient in the deadly outbreak in Australia this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday.

The ministry said in a statement that its National Public Health Laboratory has completed the genetic sequence analysis on bacteria strains taken from five patients who had listeriosis this year.

One of the patients has recovered while the other died "for reasons not due to the listeria infection", it added.

Rock melons contaminated with the listeriosis bacteria were exported to at least nine countries from Australia, including Singapore. The Australian melon producer recalled the fruit on Feb 27.

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In Singapore, the affected consignments were recalled and destroyed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in March.

In the statement, MOH said initial epidemiological investigations conducted following the notification of listeriosis cases in Singapore did not show a link between them and the Australian outbreak.

However, further laboratory investigations were conducted.

The ministry found that among the five patients, two of them were infected by the listeria strain ST240, which had a similar gene sequence to the strain found in a patient in the Australian listeriosis outbreak.

"There is no further public health risk from the Australia outbreak as the risks have been mitigated through the recall of the implicated consignments in March 2018," it said.

The ministry added that it will continue to monitor the situation closely.