Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is Listeria and How do you protect yourself

Last month experts confirmed nine cases of Listeria in the state of Colorado. First indications point the outbreaks to have occurred from infected cantaloupe, although one family member of an infected person claims it had to be the salmon she ate. Officials are still gathering information as to its cause, but as of right now, cantaloupe seems to be the culprit.

With that said, what is listeria and how do we improve our chances of not being infected by it?

“Listeria is a bacterium that causes listeriosis, a disease that usually causes flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, fever etc.”, says Biomedical Sciences Editor Dr. Kara Rogers. “It can also affect the heart and produce symptoms of meningitis, including headache, confusion, and stiff neck.”

In the recent cases that have occurred in Colorado it has been the cause of individuals lapsing into a coma up through two reported deaths. According to Dr. Rogers an outbreak in Canada a few years ago caused a mortality rate of 40% of those infected.

The transmission of this bacterium usually occurs through contaminated foods such as meat and unpasteurized dairy products. Dr. Rogers says it is rarely found on produce which makes the recent outbreak in Colorado involving cantaloupe so unusual.

You can take steps to reduce your chances of infection. Make sure you wash your produce thoroughly and just as important, dry your produce. Any and all meats should be cooked thoroughly as well and the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products should be completely avoided.

“As far as cantaloupe is concerned, it should be washed and dried and either eaten right away or stored in a refrigerator. Proper refrigeration, with temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, is important for preventing the growth of Listeria,” says Dr. Rogers.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money. A special thank you to Orly Telisman, the Director of Media relations for the Encyclopedia Britanica, for the contributions to this article.

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