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Listeriosis is a rare but severe food-borne disease that predominantly affects pregnant women, the unborn, newborns, the elderly and immunocompromised people. Following a large outbreak in the 1980s, specific food safety advice was provided to pregnant women and the immunocompromised in the United Kingdom. Following two coincident yet unconnected cases of pregnancy-related listeriosis in eastern European women in 2008, a review of the role of ethnicity in pregnancy-related listeriosis in England and Wales was undertaken in 2009. Cases reported to the national listeriosis surveillance scheme were classified as 'ethnic', belonging to an ethnic minority, or 'non-ethnic' based on their name, and trends were examined. Between 2001 and 2008, 1,510 cases of listeriosis were reported in England and Wales and, of these, 12% were pregnancy-related cases. The proportion of pregnancy-related cases classified as ethnic increased significantly from 16.7% to 57.9% (chi-square test for trend p=0.002).The reported incidence among the ethnic population was higher than that among the non-ethnic population in 2006, 2007 and 2008 (Relative Risk: 2.38, 95% confidence interval: 1.07 to 5.29; 3.82, 1.82 to 8.03; 4.33, 1.74 to 10.77, respectively). This effect was also shown when analysing data from January to September 2009, using extrapolated live births as denominator. Increased immigration and/or economic migration in recent years appear to have altered the population at risk of pregnancy-related listeriosis in England and Wales. These changes need to be taken into account in order to target risk communication strategies appropriately. .


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