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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
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Preconception/Pregnancy
- Pregnancy & Listeriosis

What is Listeriosis?

Listeria monocytogenes is a common bacterium that is found in the natural environment.

Listeria can be found in soil, water, vegetation, and the stool (fecal matter) of humans and animals. Plants and vegetables can become contaminated with the bacteria from soil, water, or manure-based fertilizers.

Eating food contaminated with listeria may cause fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. In pregnant women infections may cause miscarriage, premature delivery, and severe illness in a newborn.





Who can get Listeriosis?


Any person who contracts the listeria bacteria can become sick.

Babies are at increased risk. Pregnant women can pass the infection onto the fetus in utero or during passage through the infected birth canal.

Pregnant women are at higher risk than other healthy adults who come into contact with listeria. If a pregnant women develops listeriosis during the first 3 months of pregnancy, she may miscarry. Up to two weeks before a miscarriage, pregnant women may experience a mild flu-like illness with chills, headache, as well as muscular and joint pain. Listeriosis later on in the pregnancy can result in a stillbirth or the birth of an acutely-ill child.


Symptoms of listeriosis:

  • fever

  • intense headache

  • nausea & vomiting

  • collapse & shock

Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 30 days and up to 90 days after consuming contaminated food.





Can Listeriosis be Avoided or Treated?


Yes. A pregnant woman could decrease her risk of contracting Listeria monocytogenes bacteria by following the suggested food safety measures and avoiding the foods listed below. If a pregnant woman does contract listeriosis, antibiotics can be given to treat the infection. Diagnosis is confirmed by isolation of the infectious agent Listeria monocytogenes.





How can I protect myself and my unborn baby?


Food safety measures should be practiced at all times to prevent foodborne illnesses.

  • Cook all meat, fish and poultry very well, to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Check temperature with meat thermometer.

  • Reheat leftovers and precooked ready-to-eat foods to at least 74°C (165°F).

  • Store perishable foods, such as raw meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, in the refrigerator.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables very well. This includes ready-to-eat or pre-chopped salads and vegetables even if the packaging states that they have been pre-washed.

  • Purchase only as much fresh product as will be consumed in one to two days if possible.

  • Packaged refrigerated foods should be used by the "best before", "use by" or "expires by" date.

  • Refrigeration does not inhibit the growth of the bacteria on contaminated foods.

  • Wash, rinse and sanitize all utensils, cutting boards and work surfaces before and after using them.

  • Use separate utensils for preparing raw and cooked foods.

  • Wash your hands, before, during and after food preparation or before you eat.

  • Avoid spreading fluid from packages onto other foods, cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and food preparation surfaces.





Foods to Avoid


Foods contaminated with listeria look, smell, and taste normal.

Infected products may also come from other sources - e.g., submarine sandwiches, fast food outlets, etc… Therefore, avoid buying the products in grocery stores, but also eating the foods from other food outlets.

The following foods have been associated with listeria. These foods should be avoided unless they are prepared as indicated below.

If you are pregnant and have eaten any of the "avoid" products in the past few weeks:

  • be very aware of how you are feeling and if any symptoms of listeriosis appear

  • seek medical attention if you feel fever or any other symptoms.

  • if you seek medical attention, tell the primary care provider that you have possibly eaten a recalled meat product and approximately when.

  • be aware of symptoms especially within the next few weeks, and up to 3 months from now.

 
AVOID ENJOY
Soft and semi-soft cheeses such as feta, brie, camembert, Mexican style cheeses such as queso fresco or queso blanco, and blue-veined cheese. Cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Other dairy products such as hard cheeses, pasteurized milk and milk products, and cottage cheese are good choices. Heat soft, semi soft, and cheese made from unpasteurized milk until boiling.
Non-dried deli meats and hot dogs should be avoided. The liquid in the packaging may also contain listeria and can cause cross-contamination if spilled. Heat non-dried deli meats and hot dogs to a temperature of at least 74°C (165°F).Wash, rinse and sanitize any work surfaces that may have had spillage from liquids from the food packaging.
Refrigerated pâté and meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads.
Refrigerated smoked seafood and fish. Canned fish such as tuna or shelf-stable smoked seafood and fish.
Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and fish such as sushi or raw beef. Thoroughly cook all meat, poultry, and fish.




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