Infection Listeria infection: When listeriosis becomes dangerous
Listeria are bacteria that mainly frolic on food. These are true survivors: Listeria need neither oxygen, nor many nutrients. For this reason, they can even multiply wonderfully in packaged foods. The bacteria also do not bother with cold – only heat causes them problems.
So it is hardly surprising that the bacteria are found in our entire environment. About food, especially animal, but also vegetable, man comes into contact with them. Tap water can also be contaminated with Listeria. That alone does not necessarily mean that he is infected – we are surrounded by millions of bacteria every day, with which a good immune system can cope.
New studies indicate, however, that more and more healthy people are infected with Listeria. And for some people Listeria becomes a real danger. If you get infected with them you speak of listeriosis.
Symptoms: What is the expression of listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a food infection. The symptoms occur within a few hours to six days after contact with the bacteria and vary depending on their strength and condition:
- body aches
- Muscle aches
- General malaise
- Nausea and vomiting
In healthy people a Listeria infection usually heals spontaneously again.
For whom is listeriosis dangerous؟
How dangerous is an infection for pregnant women?
Pregnant women themselves notice only influenza-like symptoms from the infection. The listeriosis for the unborn child becomes more critical .
There is a risk of prematurity or stillbirth or the birth of the newborn baby. In the first week of life can then come to a blood poisoning and the respiratory distress syndrome.
Sometimes the baby is only infected with the mother during the birth. Since the immune system is not yet strong enough at this stage, the risk in the first week of life of babies is particularly high, to contract a severe form of listeriosis with meningitis.
How to treat a listeriosis?
If an infection is suspected, the doctor will try to detect the pathogen in blood, suspicious foods or body fluids. This is usually followed by high-dose antibiotic therapy. In the case of endangered patients or a high risk of relapse, the treatment must be carried out for at least three weeks.
Many people have listeria in their body. However, if the disease breaks down, the situation is serious and can even lead to death in immunocompromised people.
Important: Infected excrete the pathogen for months later.
How can I protect myself from Listeria?
As mentioned Listeria are extremely resistant. Only by at least two minutes of cooking, the bacteria are killed.
Vulnerable people are therefore advised to avoid risky food groups such as raw meat products, smoked fish, raw milk products or packaged, pre-sliced salads.
In principle, doctors recommend to protect against Listeria :
- Consume foods quickly
- Already during transport to pay attention to cooling
- To wash fruits and vegetables
- Thoroughly clean kitchen utensils and hands after preparation
- Regularly change and wash sponges, mops and towels (at least once a week at least 60 degrees)
- Wash hands before and after preparation
- Store food in the fridge always covered
More information about Listeria and how particularly vulnerable people can protect themselves is provided by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in this leaflet.