The microscopic representation of the bacteria that causes the infection (Image via CDC)

What is Listeria caused by? Definition and Symptoms Examined as Florida Outbreak Causes Concern

On Friday, July 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report citing the recent outbreak of listeria in the country. According to the press release, about 23 people have been infected from 10 states, one of which is dead.

The document went on to say that nearly all of the victims had traveled to Florida in the past month. However, it should be noted that despite the common connection of all these cases, no cause has been identified.

In their report, the CDC urged local health care providers to report the cases to their respective Health departments. This would give them the data set needed while investigating the sudden cause of this disease.

What did the CDC say about the ongoing Listeria outbreak in the US?

NEW Listeria Outbreak: 23 people sick, 20 of them live in or traveled to Florida before getting sick. No food has yet been linked to an outbreak. CDC will provide new information as the investigation progresses.

About 22 people were hospitalized during the outbreak, with one fatality in Illinois, according to the press release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They further mentioned that a pregnant woman miscarried due to complications from listeriosis disease. In total, about five pregnant patients have been affected by the disease so far.

The agency also advised certain demographics of individuals at higher risk. They said:

“Pregnant people and their newborns, adults 65 years and older and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for severe Listeria. CDC advises those at high risk who have symptoms of a Listeria infection, especially those who have recently traveled to Florida, to speak with their healthcare provider.”

In addition, they also revealed that their research failed to identify a food source as the reason behind the outbreak yet.

Listeria Symptoms and Causes

According to the Mayo Clinic, the infection is often caused by food sources and mainly affects people who are older than 65, are pregnant or have a compromised immune system. The US nonprofit medical portal further stated:

“Healthy people rarely get sick from a listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal for unborn babies, newborns and people with weakened immune systems. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can help reduce the effects of a listeria infection.”

The infection can have symptoms such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle aches. It can also spread to the nervous system, which has its own symptoms such as headaches, confusion, imbalance and even seizures. Meanwhile, it can even affect newborns and can cause breathing difficulties, vomiting and loss of appetite.

Regarding the infection, several medical publications state that it can take more than 30 days for symptoms to register. Meanwhile, the CDC report added:

“Symptoms of severe illness usually start within two weeks of eating food contaminated with Listeria, but can start as early as the same day or even 70 days later.”

What could be the causes of the infection?

The type of bacteria that causes the disease is called Listeria monocytogenes and can be present in contaminated water, food, soil and less commonly ingested things such as animal feces.

In the food chain, the bacteria can be present in vegetables or fruits grown with manure made from the feces of a carrier animal. In addition, the vegetables growing in the ground can also be contaminated if water sources with the bacteria present end up on the soil table.

Meanwhile, often unpasteurized milk or other dairy products such as: cheese can cause the infection. In addition, deli meats with products such as sausages, beef jerkies, and more can also cause listeriosis.

Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul

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