There is an ongoing listeriosis outbreak in the US, and 10 states are currently affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although no one has died and only 10 have been hospitalized since publication, the CDC notes that “the outbreak may not be limited to states with known disease, and the actual number of people affected by the outbreak is likely to be higher than the number reported.” That’s because some people aren’t tested for listeriosis and get better on their own, they write. Still, in light of this outbreak, which has affected people across the country from California to New York, it’s important to know the listeria symptoms to watch out for.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve probably heard of listeriosis before. A foodborne illness caused by bacteria Listeria monocytogenesThat’s why people are advised to avoid eating soft cheeses and other unpasteurized dairy products during pregnancy – but anyone can get listeriosis. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that listeriosis is a “relatively rare disease”, but “the high mortality associated with this infection makes it a major public health concern”.
Public health officials are interviewing those affected as part of their ongoing investigation into the matter, but “no specific food has yet been identified as the source of this outbreak,” the CDC reported.
“At greatest risk of listeriosis are pregnant women, newborns, adults 65 and older, people whose immune systems have been weakened by medical treatments such as chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS treatment, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes,” says in the bulletin. Peter Michael, MD, Chief Medical Officer of VUE. He shared tips for avoiding listeriosis and some common and less common signs of infection. Read on to find out how you might feel if you have listeriosis and how to get around the current outbreak.
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Who can resist a well-crafted pastry filled with Brie, prosciutto and melon? Unfortunately, some of these very foods are often to blame for listeria outbreaks.
“People are most likely to get listeriosis when they eat contaminated food,” says Michael Best Life. “This is especially true for foods such as unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses, processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats, seafood, sprouts, cantaloupe and other unpasteurized juices.”
According to the CDC, listeriosis symptoms usually begin within two weeks of eating the contaminated food, “but can begin as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks later.”
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You might expect a case of food poisoning to result in vomiting and diarrhea, but those aren’t the main symptoms Michael says to watch out for. If you have eaten contaminated food Listeria monocytogeneshe says fever, muscle aches, headache and neck stiffness are some of the first signs you might notice.
The CDC is tracking cases of the current outbreak and advises that if you become ill with listeriosis, “local or state health officials may contact you to find out what you ate in the month before you became ill. They may also ask for copies of receipts, your customer card number, or leftover food for testing.”
Listeriosis, of course Is foodborne illness, so it makes sense that “in some cases it can cause nausea and diarrhea,” says Michael. However, he lists “confusion and loss of balance” before indigestion when asked about the most common symptoms of listeria poisoning.
If you have any combination of fever, aches, dizziness, brain fog, or stomach upset that you suspect may be related to eating food with listeria, contact your healthcare provider immediately. “Listeriosis can be treated if diagnosed early,” WHO writes. “Antibiotics are used to treat severe symptoms such as meningitis. When an infection occurs during pregnancy, prompt administration of antibiotics prevents the infection.”
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When you’re at a party or restaurant, there’s little you can do to ensure that the food you’re served is listeria-free. But if you’re eating at home, practicing safe food handling techniques is the best way to stay healthy, says Michael. “This includes washing raw fruits and vegetables before eating, thoroughly cooking all meats, separating cooked from uncooked foods, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products, avoiding soft cheeses made from raw milk, thoroughly reheating leftovers, keeping cold foods at or below 38°F. and avoiding pre-made sandwiches made with deli meat.”
In the meantime, if you want to play it safe, it may be best to avoid soft cheeses and other foods that are more susceptible to listeria — at least when the outbreak is active in the United States.