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Listeria Bacteria

ANSWER: Listeria Bacteria


Recently there were news stories about an outbreak of listeriosis. Here is the background from the Center for Diseaes Control (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/cantaloupes-jensen-farms/092711/index.html

From the CDC Web site:

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns.  Rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has invasive infection (meaning that the bacteria spread from their intestines to their blood stream or other body sites).

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the high-risk category, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, who experience flu-like symptoms within 2 months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the physician or health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

People at high risk for listeriosis and those who prepare their meals can take steps to lower the risk:

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating. Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting them up.
  • Thoroughly cook raw meat and poultry.
  • Heat hot dogs, deli meats, and cold cuts until they are steaming hot just before serving.
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat fresh soft cheeses that have unpasteurized milk in them, especially Mexican style cheeses like queso fresco.

Be sure that your refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees F and your freezer is at or below 0 degrees F by using a refrigerator thermometer.

When preparing foods, follow general food safety guidelines, such as those at FoodSafety.gov.

Source: Center for Disease Control. For more Food Safety resources, visit http://food.unl.edu

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