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Center for the Prevention of Foodborne Disease
 

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Listeriosis- What is it?

Listeriosis, a serious infection imgres.jpeg
usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem in the United States. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. 

Symptoms of Listeriosis

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.  The symptoms vary with the infected person:

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

  • Persons other than pregnant women: Symptoms, in addition to fever and muscle aches, can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Listeria an​d Food

Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products. 

Most human infections follow consumption of contaminated food. When Listeria bacteria get into a food processing factory, they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products. 

The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in foods that become contaminated after cooking or processing, such as soft cheeses, processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meat (both products in factory-sealed packages and products sold at deli counters), and smoked seafood. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses and other foods made from unpasteurized milk are particularly likely to contain the bacterium.

Preven​tion

  • Cook meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature: safe minimum cooking temperatures chart at FoodSafety.gov.

  • Follow FDA recommendations for washing and handling food.

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.

  • Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.

  • Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date.

  • ​Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

Information adapted from the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html

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