What is Listeria. Health Department NY, CT
Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die. The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the signs and symptoms of listeria?
If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include:
- Stiff neck.
- Confusion or changes in alertness.
- Loss of balance.
Which foods contain Listeria?
- Ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs.
- Refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products.
- Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, Feta, Brie, Camembert.
- Refrigerated smoked seafood.
- Raw sprouts.
How do you know if you have listeria?
How will I know if I have listeriosis? Symptoms of listeriosis may show up 2-30 days after exposure. Symptoms in pregnant women include mild flu-like symptoms, headaches, muscle aches, fever, nausea, and vomiting. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause stiff neck, disorientation, or convulsions.
How deadly is Listeria?
Listeria is deadly. Although much less common than other foodborne pathogens like salmonella or E. coli, listeria is the most lethal. Most healthy immune systems can keep an infection at bay, but if the bug makes it into the bloodstream, it causes listeriosis and kills 1 in 5 victims.
- Throw out any product that has passed its use-by or expiration date.
- Cook raw meat to minimum internal temperatures.
- Prevent cross-contamination between raw or undercooked food and ready-to-eat food.
- Avoid using unpasteurized dairy products.
- Control time and temperature.
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