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What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a type of bacterial illness caused due to certain food items. It is a food borne illness that can have adverse effects on people with weak immune system, like pregnant women and their babies. It is most often caused due to eating unpasteurised dairy items, which have not been processed properly.
What causes listeriosis (listeria)?
Listeria is caused by a bacterium named Listeria monocytogenes, which is found mostly in water, sewage and soil. As a result, animals and vegetables can become carriers of the bacteria. Food items like raw fish, raw vegetables, unpasteurized milk, under-cooked poultry, and under processed dairy items like soft cheese are found contaminated by Listeria. Contamination of food items can also occur during packaging, after they have been cooked. The bacteria are present in the environment and thus cannot be eliminated completely. An infected person may not show any symptoms for several days or weeks after getting infected.
Symptoms of listeriosis
The symptoms may show up within a month and might be similar to the symptoms of common flu. It is a dangerous illness that could result in the person being hospitalized or prove fatal as well. The serious and advanced symptoms of the infection include meningitis and septicaemia. It could also result in convulsions if the infection spreads to the nervous system
How does listeriosis affect the mother and baby?
During pregnancy, it is especially important to take care of what you are eating. Pregnant women are highly susceptible to catching listeria. It has been found that approximately one third of all reported cases of listeria are found in pregnant women. This is because of their lowered immunity that they get infections during this period.
Listeriosis can cause trouble for both the mother and the baby. The pregnant woman may show symptoms like high fever or illness if she is infected. It increases the risk of complications like miscarriage and preterm birth. Listeriosis can have serious impact on the amniotic fluid and placenta and thus cause stillbirth or make the baby sick. The infant can be born with high fever and develop problems like meningitis, hypothermia or even breathing problems that could result in death of the young one.
How to prevent listeriosis?
Healthy eating habits and practicing good hygiene greatly reduce the chances of becoming infected with listeria. Some tips that can help you in this regard are:
Prevention is always better than cure and one must take care to stick to the healthy habits so as to keep such harmful diseases at bay!