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Deadly Listeria Food Poisoning: Who are at Risk?

Sarah Williams

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Sarah Williams | November 4, 2013 | 0

Another Listeria outbreak was traced back to packages of Spartan Fresh Selections American Potato Salad, according to a FoodSafetyNews.com report.  The salad was produced by Milwaukee-based company Garden-Fresh Foods Inc. Listeria is a foodborne infection caused by bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

One only needs to recall reports of recent Listeria outbreaks to put how dangerous it is into perspective. The thing with Listeria is that its incidences are not common per se, but lethal. In fact, 260 people die from Listeria each year out of 1,600 people it affects each year. 90 percent of these incidences come from highly vulnerable groups who include children, adults, the elderly, immune-compromised people and pregnant women.

People at High Risk

The CDC reports that pregnant women, elderly people and immune-compromised individuals are highly vulnerable fromListeria Food Poisoning Listeriosis. The CDC describes each group and provides facts on associated incidences:

1. Pregnant Women

–          Are 10 times more likely to contract Listeriosis than the general population;

–          Pregnant Hispanic women, meanwhile, are 24 times more likely to contract the infection than the rest of the population.

–          14 percent (one in seven people) of Listeria incidences occurs among pregnant women.

–          Listeriosis during pregnancy may result to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature labor and infant death.

2. The Elderly

–          58 percent of Listeria infections occur among 65-year-old individuals and older.

–          Adults aged 65 and older are four times more likely to contract Listeriosis than the majority of the population.

3. People with Weakened Immune System

–          Includes people who are in medication or therapy for cancer, liver or kidney ailments, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS, or chronic diabetes

Controlling Listeria

According to a Vital Signs report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Listeria is hard to identify nor prevent because you can have it for weeks before you experience any symptoms. The CDC lists the following reasons as to why Listeria is challenging to contain:

–           Foodborne Listeria can live in the body for a few weeks before symptoms like sickness or miscarriage occur. By then, it’s already difficult to determine the food source.

–          More often than not Listeria contaminates raw foods like deli meats, cheese and bean sprouts.

–          Even produce like cantaloupe and celery can be contaminated by Listeria

–          Listeria also thrives in refrigerated goods

–          Listeria also grows on unsanitary equipment or surfaces where food is prepared.

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