What are Listeria bacteria?
Listeria are a naturally occurring bacteria, that live generally harmlessly in the soil, water and natural environment. However, Listeria do have a species that is dangerous to our health, known as Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium, and are most infamous for surviving and even growing well in refrigeration temperature ranges. This bacterium affects foods such as raw chicken, dairy, processed (deli) meats as well as smoked seafood. This bacteria can also survive in oxygen-poor conditions, meaning even vacuum-packed foods are not free from concerns.
This Listeria monocytogenes bacterium is known as an opportunistic pathogen, meaning those that are already ill or have a low immune system are most likely to suffer from an infection.
Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne illness-causing bacteria. The disease is known as Listeriosis. Listeria monocytogenes is often isolated in cattle, sheep, and fowl, and is also found in dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
A person with Listeriosis usually has a fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhoea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, Listeriosis may mimic a stroke.
Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get Listeriosis.