Listeria Infection, Causes, Symptoms And Treatment.

Article By: Patrick Mansfield  |  U.S. Health Alerts
Listeria Infection, Causes, Symptoms And Treatment.

Listeria is a common bacteria present in the soil, water, and certain animals such as poultry and cattle. It can be found in raw milk and any foods made from raw milk. In addition, listeria is capable of contaminating meats within food processing plants. 

Unlike the majority of germs, listeria can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria bacteria is destroyed through proper cooking and pasteurization.

Listeria can be present in a variety of sources including: 
  • Ready-to-eat hot dogs and other deli meats
  • Refrigerated meat spreads
  • Raw milk and dairy products
  • Soft cheese made from unpasturized milk (these types include fresco, feta, brie, and camembert)
  • Smoked seafood from the refrigerator section
  • Raw sprouts

Listeria can have an incubation period as short as 3 days or as long 70 days.

Symptoms of a listeria infection often show up in a variety of ways including:
Sore, stiff neck
Can occasionally be accompanied by diarrhea
Duration of Illness

Listeria infection typically lasts several days or even weeks. 

High-Risk Populations
Certain groups of people are more likely to experience a listeria infection. These groups include:
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women - Pregnant women have a greater risk - nearly 20 times - of developing listeriosis than other health adults. The infection is typically mild for the pregnant woman but it can lead to serious complications with her baby.
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system
  • Organ transplant patients in the process of receiving drugs designed to prevent the body from rejecting the organ
  • People diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or other autoimmune diseases
  • Patients suffering from cancer
  • Late-stage renal disease
  • Liver disease
  • Alcoholics
  • Patients diagnosed with diabetes
Treatment Options

As with any illness, rest and adequate fluids are important. If you experience severe symptoms or a stiff neck, be sure to contact your physician immediately. With prompt treatment, antibiotics can cure the infection and prevent infection of the baby in pregnant women.

Read on to learn 7 tips for preventing infection:

1. Do not consume raw milk or foods containing unpasteurized milk. 

2. Wash all utensils and cooking surfaces after preparing and handling uncooked foods.

3. Give raw produce a thorough rinse under running water prior to preparing it. 

4. Separate uncooked meats from vegetables, fruits, and cooked foods. 

5. Ensure meat has been properly cooked by testing it with a food thermometer for a safe internal temperature (160 degrees). 

6. Eat any perishable foods as soon as possible to discourage bacteria growth. 

7. Anyone in a high-risk group should thoroughly cook hot dogs, cold cuts, and deli meats before consumption.
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