Why the fuss about Lysteriosis?
There is a high mortality rate associated with Lysteriosis. 1 out of 3 cases infected result in death. Lysteria bacteria is unlike other bacteria. The Lysteria bacteria can still multiply in the fridge, very salty conditions and very acidic concentrations.
Lysteriosis infection is caused by consuming food which is infected by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. This bacteria can be found in food, water, soil, human faeces and animal faeces. Healthy animals can have disease causing Lysteria in their gut. Fertilizer (soil and manure) can cause contamination of vegetables. Listeria monocytogenes can also be found in raw milk, raw meat, seafood as well as soft cheese.
Who has the highest risk?
• Pregnant women (20x more like than healthy adults)
• Immuno-compromised: HIV/AIDS (300x more like than healthy adults)
• Cancer patients
• Kidney disease, chronic liver disease
• Individuals on steroid therapy
How is the disease transmitted?
1. Eating food contaminated by the Lysteria monocytogenes bacteria
2. Drinking contaminated water
3. Pregnant mothers can pass it on to their babies
Symptoms of the infection can vary from person to person. Lyteriosis is usually treated with antibiotics.
- Mild Lysteriosis: Diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle aches, fever.
- Severe Lysteriosis: Severe headaches, meningitis, encephalitis (brain infection).
- Pregnant women: miscarriage, still birth, fever, diarrhoea.
5 keys to Prevention:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 5 keys to food safety.
1. Keep clean
Wash your hands before handling food, before eating, after going to the toilet, after playing with pets. Wash and sanitize surfaces and utensils used for preparing food. Avoid insects/pests/animals in the kitchen.
2. Separate raw and cooked foods
Raw meat, chicken and fish should be separated from other foods as raw meat contains microorganisms that are only destroyed after cooking. Further more, Separate utensils and chopping boards should be used for raw and cooked foods. In the fridge, raw meat should be stored below cooked foods to prevent the juices from dripping and contaminating cooked foods.
3. Cook food thoroughly
Cooking food properly (to 70°C) can destroy harmful bacteria which ensures food is safe to eat. Once meat and poultry is cooked, juices should be clear and not pink. Therefore, leftovers must be reheated thoroughly. Liquid foods (soups and stews) should be brought to a boil. Extra precautions: avoid unpasteurized dairy products, avoid deli meats, refrigerated pates/ meat spreads, smoked seafood.
4. Keep food at safe temperatures
Food should not be left at room temperature longer than 2 hours, rather refrigerate. Refrigerators should be set at ˂5°C. Keep cooked food hot (˃60°C). Frozen food should be thawed in the fridge rather than at room temperature.
5. Use safe water and raw materials
Use safe water or treat water. Choose fresh wholesome foods. Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly. However, do not use food that has passed the expiry date.