Some symptoms of Listeria infection include a fever, muscle ache, vomiting and diarrhea. Should the bacteria infect the nervous system, symptoms may also include headaches, stiff neck, confusion, a loss of balance, and convulsions. Pregnant women may only have flu-like symptoms; however a toll can be taken on the unborn child. In such cases, symptoms of Listeria infection include miscarriages, stillbirths, and a passing of the infection to the newborn. In newborns, symptoms can include a loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting, rashes, and difficulty in breathing.
Listeria infection occurs when the bacteria infects a human being. Healthy adults with normal immune systems are usually able to ingest some contaminated food without being affected. However, those with a compromised immune system are at higher risk of obtaining an infection. Some of the people that are at higher risk for the symptoms of Listeria include the elderly, newborns, pregnant women, and adults with a lowered immune system. It should be noted that even healthy adults may be able to contract this infection.
Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria that is found in soil and water and can contaminate vegetables when contaminated fertilizer is used. Therefore, eating raw vegetables can lead to a person developing symptoms of Listeria infection. The bacteria can also be present in animals without them showing any symptoms. This means that some raw meats may be contaminated. Unpasteurized milk and products made from unpasteurized milk may also harbor the bacteria and lead to infection.
In order to stem Listeria, certain hygienic practices should be followed. Foods like pork, beef, and chicken should be thoroughly cooked before eating. Raw vegetables should be washed before eating. Ready to eat foods should be eaten as soon as possible. In addition, raw meats should be kept away from vegetables, and both should be kept away from cooked foods.
Those with high risk factors for Listeria infection should take extra care. It is possible for foods to be contaminated after cooking but before packaging. Therefore, those with high risk may find it useful to stay away from hotdogs and deli meats unless these items have been heated thoroughly before eating. Products made with unpasteurized milk should be avoided, but since pasteurization kills Listeria, pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products can be eaten. A doctor may be able to give advice on more tips on keeping the symptoms of Listeria infection at bay.