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Listeria Monocytogenes

What is it?

One of the most virulent foodborne pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes is indicated in more than 1,600 illnesses each year in the United States. It is a non-spore forming rod-shaped bacterium that destroys red blood cells and can cause septicemia and meningitis. It’s found in soil, water, and the intestinal tracts of chicken and cows. Because it can live and grow in cold temperatures, it especially dangerous. Listeriosis can be fatal and has even higher death rates than Salmonella.

How is it spread?

Listeriosis is usually spread by eating food contaminated by the bacterium. Foods that are often implicated include deli meats, hot dogs, meat spreads, unpasteurized dairy products, smoked seafood, and raw sprouts.

Typical Symptoms

Fever, fatigue, confusion, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea.

Most at risk

Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons are most at risk, but given the right conditions, anyone can suffer this illness.

For more information, see:

Food Safety