Listeria monocytogenes can cause a food borne illness called Listeriosis. (Murano 2003) This bacterium can be found in soil and water. (Murano 2003) Unlike many other germs, it can grow in cold temperatures such as the refrigerator. Listeria monocytogenes can be killed by pasteurization and cooking. (Murano 2003)
Some foods that are typically contaminate by Listeria monocytogenes are a variety of raw foods, processed foods and foods made from unpasteurized milk. Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer. (Murano 2003)
The time between ingestion and the onset of symptoms for Listeriosis ranges from three to 70 days and averages 21 days. (Murano 2003)
Symptoms that can be seen include fever, chills, upset stomach and vomiting. If Listeriosis spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions can occur. (Bryan 1999) Listeriosis can invade the central nervous system, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis. (Murano 2003) Infected pregnant women usually experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. (Silver 1998)
In general, length of antibiotic treatment increases with the severity of the infection. Meningitis is treated for three weeks while brain abscesses are treated for six weeks. (Davis 2010) The length of symptoms varies as it depends on the patient’s severity of the infection and which symptoms. (Davis 2010)
To reduce the risk of Listeriosis, use precooked and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible. Try to avoid raw milk and raw milk products, rare meat and seafood. (Bryan 1999) Always heat ready-to-eat foods and leftovers until they are steaming hot and wash fresh fruits and vegetables properly. Always wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. (FDA/CFSAN 2003) Lastly, pasteurizing milk can help prevent the risk of...
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