Listeria is a food borne bacterial illness that can quickly attack a person having an impaired or weak immune system. The developing symptoms of Listeria infection results in a disease called listeriosis.
What exactly Listeria is?
Listeria is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria found in soil and water. In general, Listeria is a serious disease caused by eating contaminated food with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. People getting attacked by this infection experience symptoms of Listeria like fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. However, in cases when infection becomes severe, it can cause meningitis, headaches, convulsions, and even death.
People who eat improper processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products are at high risk of getting attacked by Listeria infection. A fact about Listeria is that healthy people rarely become ill from this infection, but for unborn babies and newborns, the disease may prove to be fatal. Additionally, people with weak immune systems are also at higher risk of life-threatening complications. In order to curb the effects of Listeria infection, early diagnosis, and prompt antibiotic treatment is necessary.
Fast facts about Listeria infection:
A Listeria bacterium is a dangerous disease, which can survive refrigeration and even freezing. In the year 2001, Listeria was added to the CDC list of nationally notifiable diseases because of the outbreak that has claimed 13 lives in the United States. Below are some of the Listeria facts that you need to know:
• Listeria got its name after Dr. Joseph Lister, an English surgeon who introduced sterilization into surgery.
• Listeria bacteria can be easily found in cooked and uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, and soft cheeses.
• Listeria can be found in unpasteurized milk products. Although the bacteria are killed by pasteurization in ready-to-eat foods, but contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.
• As per the CDC reports, an estimated 1600 cases of Listeria infection are reported in the United States every year and out of which 260 results in death.
• Another Listeria fact is that it affects older people, pregnant women, infants, and adults with weak immune systems.
• Pregnant women are ten times at risk of getting attacked by Listeriosis
• 14 percent of Listeria cases occur during pregnancy
What are the symptoms of Listeria?
Researchers have stated in their studies that only a minimal percentage of people fall ill or develop symptoms after ingesting Listeria. Symptoms of Listeria may be mild or quite severe. People who develop symptoms may experience fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Symptoms may begin after few days of the consumption of contaminated food, but symptoms may take as long as two months before representing any signs of infection. If Listeria infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms may include:
• Confusion or changes in alertness
• Stiff neck
• Loss of balance
However, during pregnancy, symptoms of Listeria infection may be mild in the mother, but for the baby, symptoms may be devastating. In general, the child may die unexpectedly before birth or experience a life-threatening infection within the few days after birth. As adults, the symptoms of Listeria infection in a newborn can be precise but may include:
• Little interest in feeding
How to prevent Listeria?
Treatment of Listeria infection depends on the severity of the signs and symptoms. Most people with mild symptoms of Listeria require no treatment. On the contrary, severe symptoms of Listeria can be treated with antibiotics. Doctors treat Listeria in pregnant women by prescribing prompt antibiotic treatment. However, newborns with Listeria infection may receive a combination of antibiotics.
In order to prevent the Listeria infection, you need to follow simple food safety guidelines:
• Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food. Always use hot, soapy water to wash the cutting board, utensils, and other food preparation surfaces.
• Make use of a scrub brush to clean raw vegetables under excess of running water.
In case you’re at risk of Listeria infection, pregnant or have a weak immune system you need to be extra cautious. You need to avoid eating soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, feta, or blue cheese unless mentioned that the product is made using pasteurized milk. In addition, don’t eat refrigerated smoked seafood because these may be labeled as nova style, kippered, lox or jerky. You can eat smoked seafood in a casserole or other cooked dish.
Also Read: 4 Simple Ways To Avoid Unwanted Pregnancy
Listeria is a bacterial infection that can prove to be fatal, if left untreated. So, to avoid Listeria infection you need to follow food safety rules because these can guide you well.
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