What is Listeriosis or Listeria?
A type of food poisoning that is caused by consuming food infected by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes is called listeriosis or listeria. Approximately 2000 people every year are infected with listeriosis or listeria in USA. This disease is quite serious in pregnant women and can result in premature delivery, miscarriage, or even stillbirth. People generally infected with listeriosis or listeria are pregnant women, adults with compromised immune system, old age people. There have been some cases of babies being born with listeriosis or listeria as their mother got infected during pregnancy.
Causes of Listeriosis or Listeria
The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes is generally found in soil and water. The vegetables that are eaten can become adulterated from the soil or the manure that is used in the form of fertilizer, causing listeriosis or listeria. Some animals may be infected with the bacteria which in turn can infect their meat and their dairy products causing listeriosis or listeria. Processed foods can also get contaminated after processing.
Signs and Symptoms of Listeriosis or Listeria
Symptoms of listeriosis or listeria include fever, muscle pains, diarrhea and in some cases nausea. If there is a spread of the listeriosis infection and the nervous system gets involved then a person may suffer from symptoms like headaches, confusion, convulsions etc.
Diagnosis of Listeriosis or Listeria
To diagnose listeriosis or listeria, a physician conducts a detailed history and physical evaluation. The person will have to give details of the foods or food products that he has consumed. Questions will be asked about the symptoms experienced. A blood draw will be required to confirm the diagnosis of listeriosis or listeria.
Treatment of Listeriosis or Listeria
A healthy individual does not need treatment for listeriosis or listeria, as it usually gets cured on its own in a few weeks. In case of females who are not pregnant they also do not need treatment for listeriosis or listeria. In the case of pregnant females, antibiotics are given to prevent spread of the infection to the baby. Infants suffering from listeriosis or listeria also get the same antibiotics as adults.
Prevention of Listeriosis or Listeria
Listeriosis or listeria can be prevented by having good and safe food habits. Some of them are listed below.
- Meat, poultry products, fish etc. should be kept separately from other food items and should be stored properly.
- In order to prevent listeriosis or listeria, food should be cooked safely by washing hands before and after preparing food. Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cooking. If possible, meat, poultry, and seafood should be cut separately using a separate cutter from the vegetables.
- Foods should be stored properly so as to prevent any infection of listeriosis or listeria.
In Case of Pregnant Women the Following Precautions Should be Followed:
- Hot dogs, meats, etc. should be avoided unless they are served steaming hot.
- Cheese should be avoided.
- Refrigerated seafood should be avoided. Canned seafood can be eaten.
- Unpasteurized milk and milk products needs to be avoided.
- Salads made such as ham, chicken, egg, or seafood salads should be avoided.
Prognosis for Listeria or Listeriosis
In a healthy individual, listeriosis or listeria goes away on its own, but in pregnant females and infants, antibiotics are used to treat it.