The disease listeria is a type of bacterium that infects humans and other warm-blooded animals through contaminated food.

This disease mainly targets pregnant women and their babies, people with weak immune systems, and those 65 years or older.

The sources of listeria are -vegetables, they can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer -Animals, can carry the bacteria and can contaminate meats and dairy products -Processed foods, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts, can be contaminated after processing and -Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk, can be contaminated. The first incubation periods were documented during a large listeriosis outbreak.

The symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. But infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.

To prevent listeria do the following -Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them -Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods and -Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating.

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