Listeria is a type of bacterium that can cause listeriosis, a type of food-borne disease that is typically non-fatal for healthy individuals. However, for young children, older adults, or for those with weak immune system, a listeria infection can be serious, sometimes even deadly. Signs and symptoms of listeria infection may occur days after exposure, which may include diarrhea, muscle pain, fever, and nausea.
There are many different causes of listeriosis. According to the website of Williams Kherkher (view website), food products that have been manufactured and packaged in an unsanitary way are most prone to listeria contamination. Home-cooked meals stored and handled in an unsanitary are also at risk of contamination.
Unfortunately, listeriosis may take its greatest toll on vulnerable groups. Unborn babies whose mother was exposed to listeria, for instance, are at risk of premature birth, still birth, miscarriage, or life-threatening infection. For those with weak immune system, such as the elderly or those with chronic diseases, listeriosis may result in septicemia (blood infection), or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain).
The adverse effects associated with listeriosis can be fatal. As such, it is important to seek medical help for accurate diagnosis and prompt antibiotic treatment if you believe you have been exposed to listeria. You may also keep in mind these tips on how to ensure that your foods are safe from contamination:
- Never drink unpasteurized milk or eat products with unpasteurized milk
- When eating raw vegetables, wash them thoroughly with clean running water to make sure that no listeria-containing materials are left
- When preparing and handling food, make sure to use only clean utensils
- Utensils used for uncooked food should never be used for the cooked or ready-to-eat ones
- If you are pregnant, are sick, or have weak immune system, take extra precautions in eating refrigerated seafood and deli meats