Still considered a rare infection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Listeria is the third most common cause of food poisoning fatalities in the United States. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1600 people are infected by Listeria annually, out of which 260 die, making up 1 in 6 Americans. Listeria Monocytogenes is a germ that contaminates food and causes a serious infection in people of all ages, especially older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and people with weak immune systems. The foodborne illness can last from days to weeks, and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the infection. Keep reading to learn more about Listeria Monocytogenes food poisoning.
What Is the Listeria Infection?
Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by the germ Listeria Monocytogenes, usually found in groundwater, soil, animal feces, and rotting vegetation. People get Listeria from eating contaminated food like hotdogs, deli meals, fresh vegetables, soft cheeses, cantaloupes, fresh fruits, and unpasteurized dairy products. L. monocytogenes is a rare form of bacteria that can reproduce even in low temperatures. Not only this, but the strangest part is that the food contaminated with the bacteria doesn’t develop a strange taste, smell, or changes texture, making it impossible to know if the food or beverage is safe to consume or not.
A healthcare provider will test your blood, Cerebrospinal fluid, or vomit to determine if you have a foodborne illness. While Listeriosis isn’t a threat to healthy people, it can be life-threatening for people with a weak immune system, pregnant women, and newborns.
Is Listeria Contagious?
No, you cannot pass Listeria from one person to another. However, a mother can pass the foodborne illness to her unborn child (fetus).
What Are the Causes of Listeria?
Listeria Monocytogenes are found in animal feces, soil, and water. People get infected with the germ by eating contaminated meat, unpasteurized milk, raw vegetables, and processed foods such as deli meats, hotdogs, and soft cheeses.
What Are the Symptoms of Listeria?
As stated above, the symptoms of Listeria can vary from mild to severe, depending on how bad the infection is. Listed below are the common symptoms of Listeriosis:
● Upset stomach
● Muscle aches
● Vomiting and nausea
● Loss of balance
In case of a severe infection, the Listeria Monocytogenes germs can spread throughout your bloodstream to your brain, leading to encephalitis, meningitis, or sepsis. Pregnant women with Listeriosis have flu-like symptoms like muscle aches and fatigue, which can cause stillbirth, premature delivery, miscarriage, and even a life-threatening infection in the newborn.
Note: Listeriosis symptoms can surface between 1 to 4 weeks and as late as 70 days after consuming contaminated food.
Is Listeria Treatable | Listeriosis Treatment and Medication
Fortunately, Listeriosis is a treatable medical condition. Your healthcare provider will prescribe you antibiotics to cure the infection. If you have a weak immune system, are pregnant, or are 65 years old, the doctor will give you ampicillin (Principen) or sulfamethoxazole (Bacter-Aid DS). Along with antibiotics, the healthcare provider will also ask you to take medication to manage vomiting and nausea. However, like every other medication, antibiotics for Listeria can have side effects depending on your medical history. These complications include allergic reactions, Clostridioides Difficile, and antibiotic resistance.
On the flip side, if you have mild Listeriosis, here are some tips for managing the symptoms:
● Stay hydrated.
● Take the medications as prescribed by the healthcare provider.
● Eat a light diet.
● Take NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve muscle aches and manage fever.
While people with a healthy immune system will feel better after a few days of being infected with Listeria without medication, it will take 3 to 5 days for the medication to treat people with severe Listeriosis. In either case, make sure to follow the course of antibiotics as stated by the healthcare provider.
How Can I Protect Myself from Listeria?
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria Monocytogenes can grow at a rapid speed when stored in the refrigerator and so freezing won’t kill the pathogen. Therefore, it is advised to set the refrigerator at 4 degree Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and the freezer to -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent or slow down the growth of the foodborne disease. Follow these tips to minimize the risk of contracting Listeriosis:
● Wash your hands before and after cooking.
● Wrap the leftover food in foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure that the food containers don’t have any leaks.
● Regularly clean all the kitchen surfaces, including countertops, cutting boards, refrigerator shelves and inside walls, and utensils. While doing so, make a chlorine bleach solution with water to sanitize the kitchen.
● Make sure to wipe spills immediately, especially meat juices.
● If you have pets, dispose of the leftover food to prevent cross-contamination.
● When cooking seafood, hotdogs, deli meals, or egg dishes, maintain the internal temperature at 74 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit).
● Wash and scrub raw vegetables and fruits using a brush under warm water.
Are You Searching for a Listeria Attorney in Illinois?
Food poisoning outbreaks are very common in the United States. Thus, they should be contained before things worsen. So, whether you got Listeria from a hot dog from a street cart, soft cheese, melons, or smoked seafood, the people who made you sick deserve to be punished. A Newland & Newland, LLP attorney will help you sue the food provider, company, or manufacturer for selling contaminated food while ensuring that you get compensated for the medical bills, pain, and suffering. We serve throughout Illinois, including Rolling Meadows, ElkGrove, and Wheeling. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a Listeriosis attorney right away.