Mum's warning about deadly listeria amid rockmelon contamination scare

EXCLUSIVE | Lucy-Mae Beers

A mother has shared a warning about the dangers of contracting listeria after a pregnancy scare resulted in her placenta "shutting down".

The revelation of her harrowing ordeal follows the news of two people dying from a listeria outbreak in NSW this year, with the deaths linked to rockmelon contamination.

Kimberley Booth, from Sydney, had a healthy pregnancy with her second child and followed all safety guidelines including avoiding "risky" foods including soft cheeses and thoroughly washing all of her vegetables.

But in June 2016, when she was 35 weeks pregnant, Mrs Booth said her unborn son stopped moving.

Kimberley Booth has shared a warning about listeria after she had her son early. Photo: Supplied

That afternoon Mrs Booth went to her midwife appointment and a scan confirmed baby Eli was unusually still.

"His heartbeat was fine. His blood flow was fine. But he wasn't even lifting a pinky," Mrs Booth told Yahoo7.

The mother's obstetrician then came in and voiced his concern over the lack of movement. They decided to perform an emergency C-section to deliver baby Eli safely.

"I'm convinced that if we waited then we wouldn't have our child," Mrs Booth said.

"No one wanted to say how bad it could have been, but it was very obvious to me we came far too close."

After the surgery, the obstetrician sent off the mother's placenta for testing and she said it returned a positive result for listeria.

"My placenta got listeria and shut down to protect me. It shut [my son] down in doing so," she said.

Eli was born perfectly healthy and is now a year and a half.

Before the results, Mrs Booth believed listeria bacteria took six to eight weeks to show symptoms, but she had eaten rockmelon just 24 hours earlier and believes it may have been the source of the bacteria even though she knew the supplier had followed safe food handling.

Eli was born perfectly healthy but Mrs Booth believes if they had of waited the outcome could have been devastating. Photo: Supplied

Mrs Booth's warning about listeria comes as Australians have been urged to throw out rockmelon after a listeria outbreak that has left two people in NSW dead.

Ten elderly people across Australia were diagnosed with the infection after consuming rockmelon and becoming ill between January 17 and February 9, the NSW Food Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

Listeriosis is a rare illness caused by eating food contaminated with the listeria bacteria, which is common in some raw foods.

In June 2016, when she was 35 weeks pregnant, Mrs Booth said her son stopped moving. Photo: Supplied

Although the disease is rare, infections may cause blood poisoning and meningitis.

The infection is particularly dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women and people who have underlying health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart and kidney disease.

Vulnerable people should avoid pre-cut melons such as rockmelon or watermelon.

Rockmelon consumption has been linked to an outbreak of listeria. Source: 7 News

Listeria can also be prevented by avoiding foods such as pre-packed cold salads, pre-cooked cold chicken, raw seafood, unpasteurised milk or soft cheeses.

The time from consuming the bacterium to showing the signs of illness can often be between eight to 90 days.

Mrs Booth wants her experience to show warnings are in place for a reason and to not ignore a "mother's instincts".

Health authorities are advising people to throw out any rockmelons they have at home. Source: 7 News