What to know about Listeriosis

Listeriosis is food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) bacterium.

In pregnant women, the infection can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

Although it affects everybody, Listeriosis is almost 20 times more likely to affect pregnant women than other healthy adults because changes in the immune system mean that the defences against the infection are lower than usual 

Symptoms may begin a few days after one has eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as 30 days or more before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin. If the listeria infection spreads to the victim’s nervous system, signs and symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. 

 The sources of infection are;  ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs, refrigerated meat spreads, unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products, soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, and others.

In Illinois, approximately 20 cases of listeriosis are reported annually; about 25 percent of the cases die. While anyone can become ill from eating food contaminated by the bacteria, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems are exposed to higher risk.

The bacteria can be killed with heat. Heat is effective at killing the listeria bacterium. Cook high-risk foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats and sausages to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before consumption. 

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