A Listeria outbreak has been putting peoples' life at risk in the U.S. Listeria is a foodborne illness or food poisoning infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
On March 9, it was reported that six people were hospitalized in various places like Connecticut, Florida and Vermont due to Listeria infection. There were also two fatalities that occurred in Vermont, and Connecticut.
It is believed that the Ouleout cheese was the major causing factor for the outbreak. The cheese was already sold in places like Washington DC, California, Chicago, and Portland as the makers admitted.
The government urged the consumers to remove the cheese from their storages or coolers and to immediately return the product to the manufacturer for a refund.
Breeding Grounds Of Listeria
Listeria bacteria are found in soil, water and also in certain other animals like poultry and cattle. It is present in raw milk and in those foods that are prepared with raw milk. The bacteria can also survive and grow on food that are stored in cold places like refrigerators and can only be eliminated once cooked or pasteurized.
The various breeding grounds of these particular bacteria are deli meats, hot dogs, refrigerated meat spreads, unpasteurized or raw milk, and other dairy products. Furthermore soft cheese that is made with unpasteurized milk, smoked seafood and raw sprouts are also breeding grounds of Listeria.
Symptoms of Listeria
The various symptoms of the infection are fever, diarrhea, along with fatigue, muscle pain and headache. Individuals also suffer with stiff neck, loss of balance, convulsions if infected with Listeria infection.
Who Is at Risk?
Pregnant women, newborns, adults aged 65 or above, and people who have damaged or weakened immune system are more prone to catch the infection.
It also affects people who go through organ transplant or are suffering from HIV or AIDS or other autoimmune diseases, cancer patients and end-stage renal patients. Reports have shown that Listeria also affects people with drinking problems and diabetes.
"Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely than the general population to get Listeria infection," states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website
How To Prevent Listeria Infection?
Viewing the current scenario, scientists and health officials have started alerting people about Listeria and its preventive measures. People are advised to wash hands, knives and cutting boards after preparing uncooked food.
People are strictly asked to thoroughly wash raw food under tap water. Heath officials are also advising people to keep uncooked meat, seafood or poultry away from vegetables and fruits.
Health officials are advising people to cook food thoroughly before consumption and are also recommending them to reduce the consumption of ready-to-eat foods.
Photo: Mark Bonica | Flickr