Deadly Listeria Outbreak: Are You at Risk?

Deadly Listeria Outbreak: Are You at Risk?

( – Recent news reports have been flooding in, warning consumers of the latest food-borne threat. Listeria is responsible this time around, putting some groups of people at greater risk than others. Find out who’s most vulnerable to this potentially deadly infection and what to do to prevent it.

See If You Are at Risk of Deadly Listeria Complications.

Recent Listeria Outbreak

On October 23, 2020, the CDC released an Investigation Notice warning that listeria bacteria had caused serious illnesses in at least three states. Between New York, Florida and Massachusetts, a total of 10 people have been hospitalized so far. One person in Florida has died.

Authorities believe deli meats are to blame, although they haven’t been able to pinpoint any specific brands or varieties as of yet. They may, however, have narrowed the culprit down: Nine of the victims reported having consumed Italian-style deli meats specifically, which include prosciutto, mortadella and salami.

Symptoms of Listeria Infection

Each year, listeriosis causes serious infections in about 1,850 US residents, killing about 425 of them. The infection often begins with a fever, body aches and sometimes gastrointestinal upset, all of which can be easy to confuse with other issues. In some cases, the infection spreads to the nervous system, where it causes headaches, stiff neck and serious neurological complications that can include loss of balance, confusion and convulsions.

People with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS, older populations and people on glucocorticosteroid medications, are at the highest risk of suffering severe illness, although pregnant women appear to be most susceptible to the actual infection. Expectant mothers are about 20 times more likely to contract this disease. Although they generally only experience flu-like symptoms, their unborn children may suffer premature deliveries and sometimes even stillbirth, so pregnant women must be especially careful.

Reducing the Risks

Some cases are less avoidable than others, but avoiding lunch meats, smoked fish and unpasteurized milk products may help cut risks. Raw sprouts might also be a source, as may cut melon. Make sure to heat hot dogs, sausages and other cured meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Lunch meats should also be heated prior to consumption, especially if you’re at a high risk of infection. Keep surfaces and refrigerators clean, and always practice good hand hygiene. Remember, a small amount of prevention can go a long way.

Listeriosis is a real threat, but we reduce infections by taking a few simple measures. Outbreaks are inevitable, so it’s up to each of us to be ready for them. Pregnant women especially need to be aware of the dangers and take precautions whenever necessary to keep exposure to a minimum.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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