Listeria is a bacterium that can be found in the soil, in groundwater and on plants. Animals and people can carry listeria in their bodies without getting sick.
Humans can become very ill if they eat food contaminated with the listeria bacteria.
Most people do not get sick from the bacterium but there are a number that are susceptible to disease due to listeriosis. By following the food regulations on the packaging you can reduce the risk of getting sick.
Why is listeriosis dangerous?
Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on the mother's immune system, making them more susceptible to disease by listeriosis.
A pregnant woman is 20 times more susceptible to the bacterium than other healthy adults. About one in three cases of listeriosis occurs during pregnancy.
Listeriosis can be transmitted to the fetus by the placenta, even if the mother does not show any disease. This may lead to premature birth, miscarriage, birth or serious postnatal illnesses.
How do you know you have listeriosis?
It often takes days to even weeks before you get sick, and the symptoms are often light. Probably you will not even notice that you are sick. It is therefore important to pay close attention to what you eat. Check the packing and shelf life and do not take risks with foods. Pregnant women may have flu-like symptoms with sudden onset of fever, chills, muscle aches and sometimes diarrhea or a painful stomach. The severity of the symptoms varies. If the infection expands to the nervous system you can also suffer from a headache, stiff neck, equilibrium problems, confusion or nervousness. Talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms.