According to the CDC, each year 1,600 new cases of Listeriosis result in approximately 260 deaths. Listeriosis infections occur after consuming food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, a rod-shaped bacteria, remarkably resistant to refrigeration and freezing. Listeria bacteria are best controlled by cooking raw food and pasteurizing milk and cheeses.
Risk Factors and Pregnancy
Most reported cases affect adults with a compromised immune system, the elderly, pregnant women and newborns. Alarmingly, it is possible for babies to contract Listeriosis in utero if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy.
The risks are much higher among immunocompromised individuals, however, any person consuming contaminated foods or beverages can fall ill.
What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?
Initial symptoms of Listeriosis are often flu-like. Patients typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches.
In many cases, people do not seek medical assistance until the infection has advanced beyond the gastrointestinal tract. Once the pathogen is ingested, it may travel through the bloodstream into the central nervous system. This allows Listeria to possibly attack the brain, resulting in meningitis and encephalitis.
How is Listeria spread?
Most infections follow the consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. If Listeria bacteria is introduced into a food processing facility, it can possibly grow there for years.
The bacteria is known to find host in several types of food, and is able to survive at refrigerated temperatures. Vegetables can be contaminated in water and soil carrying bacteria. Raw animal products are also susceptible to Listeria.
In 2011, the largest Listeriosis outbreak in American history occurred, when 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and one miscarriage were reported among residents of 28 states. The outbreak was linked to cantaloupe from a single farm in Colorado.
More recently, outbreaks of Listeria have been caused by:
• Raw produce like lettuce, cucumbers, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apples.
In 2015, Granny Smith and Gala apples were recalled after 34 people were hospitalized across 12 states after an outbreak of Listeria found in caramel apples. Listeriosis contributed to at least 3 of the 7 deaths reported. In addition, 11 illnesses were pregnancy-related, with one illness resulting in a fetal loss. Meningitis was also reported among otherwise healthy children aged 5-15 years. Dole also recalled all salad mixes produced in one Ohio facility.
• Raw milk and cheese (unpasteurized).
• Processed foods
Ice cream, smoked seafood, and ready-to-eat meats, such as deli ham and hot dogs. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all of its products in 2015 after an outbreak in four different states.
Long-term Effects & Pregnancy
Listeria’s severe consequences make it among the most serious of foodborne infections. For women, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Other complications include the following:
• Brain Stem Damage
• Cranial Nerve Palsies
• Cervical Cord Compression
If you or a loved one suffered from moderate to severe Listeria and have questions about the root cause and the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions
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