Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes a food poisoning illness known as listeriosis. The bacteria can be found in different foods including eggs. So, yes, you can get listeria from eggs, however, that can only happen if you eat runny eggs. In general, eating raw foods is not advisable as they may contain different bacteria such as salmonella or even listeria. If you want to have eggs, that might possibly have bacteria, then you should cook them to a solid consistency. Cooking will help with killing the bacteria and you will be under no threat of a listeria infection.
Can You Get Listeria From Eggs?
Many people don’t think eggs carry listeria; however, any animal foods can be contaminated with the bacterium. This depends on whether the hen where the eggs came from was a carrier or was infected with listeria. Otherwise, then the bacterium is not present. Eggs can also be contaminated with listeria if they come into contact with the bacteria once the shell has been cracked open. Although an egg could have listeria, it is unlikely to be found inside the egg, as the bacteria live on the shell. To be on the safe side, always make sure that you cook your eggs properly.
Just because you ate an egg that had listeria bacteria, it does not necessarily mean you’ll be infected. As a matter of fact, there are people who hardly show signs of infection. Nonetheless, you could get listeriosis and symptoms will start to show as early as three days after infection. In other patients though, they may take longer to exhibit listeria infection symptoms, and can even happen after two months. On average, it takes about three weeks to show signs of listeria monocytogenes infection.
Some of the imminent symptoms of listeria include; fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. As the bacteria spreads through your body, the more severe your symptoms get. For pregnant mothers, they can experience miscarriages, premature delivery or stillbirths. As for their unborn baby, the worst that can happen is death, and they may also develop a serious infection after birth. People with various risk factors also exhibit similar imminent symptoms of infection but as it gets worse, they may have severe symptoms. For example; headaches, confusion, convulsions, brain abscesses, and stiff neck.
Treatment of Listeria
The immediate treatment of a listeria bacterial infection is taking antibiotics. Your physician will give you the best medication depending on the intensity of your infection and whether you have a risk factor. A risk factor is basically a situation that makes you more vulnerable to infections and can worsen the infection you get, despite being a mild one. A major lot of people who can contract listeriosis include the elderly, pregnant women, unborn babies and newborns, people with AIDS and those with serious medical problems. For such people, even with prompt administration of antibiotics, they may end up kicking the bucket as the bacteria overwhelm their bodies.
Necessary Precaution with Eggs
Since eggs can be carries of various foodborne bacteria such as listeria and salmonella, it is important that you choose your eggs wisely. Some of the precautions you should take with eggs include; purchasing eggs from trusted vendors and refrigerating them. in addition to that, make sure you keep them in a different compartment, separate from other foods that may contain listeria. On top of that, you should throw away eggs with cracked shells and those that have dirty shells. When the inner contents of an egg are exposed, there is a high likelihood they contain various pathogens. Finally, be cautious with eggs you purchase directly from a farm.
Eggs are an important diet as they offer a good amount of protein levels. However, you should be careful about how you eat them and how safe they are to eat. Runny eggs aren’t the healthiest as per se, instead, you should consider cooking them properly to kill any bacteria present. Pregnant mothers should also avoid runny eggs as they can do more damage to their pregnancy than good. Observe the necessary precautions with eggs, and you can be guaranteed of as little listeria infection as none at all.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Listeria (Listeriosis). https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/index.html
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Shell Eggs from Farm to Table. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation/shell-eggs-from-farm-to-table/CT_Index
- World Health Organization. (2020). Listeriosis. https://www.who.int/health-topics/listeriosis#tab=tab_1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Symptoms of Listeria Infection. https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/symptoms.html
- NHS. (2018). Listeriosis. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/listeriosis/
- Pricolo, V. E. (2020). Listeria Infection. In StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544294/
- European Food Safety Authority. (2018). Listeria monocytogenes contamination of ready-to-eat foods and the risk for human health in the EU. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5136