Saturday, May 7, 2011

Listeria Risk For Patients With Underlying Medical Problems

In the news today came this warning from the CDC;

 Sandwich lovers listen up!

The Centers For Disease Control are issuing a warning, specifically for those age 50 and up. The CDC says you need to cook your sandwich meat before you eat it.

Laurence Burnsed with the State Department of Health says, "Be sure to cook lunch meats and hot dogs to a hot steamy temperature of over 160 degrees before consuming them."

Listeria can be potentially harmful for the elderly and individuals with the following medical problems; diabetes, immunocomprised adults , leukemia, AIDS, hogkins disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, liver disease, transplant recipients and pregnant women.

Cancer Patients at Five-Fold Risk of Listeria Infection

In 2010 research by the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency has shown that cancer patients have a five-fold increased risk of developing listeria than people with other underlying conditions - and those those with cancers of the blood have the greatest risk. These findings are published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Listeriosis is a rare but serious foodborne illness caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Some groups of people can be more seriously affected by this type of food poisoning than others. Pregnant women and their unborn or newborn babies are at most risk, as well as the elderly and those with conditions that affect their immune system.

In addition to cancer, diseases of the liver, kidney and connective tissue (e.g. Lupus) as well as alcoholism, diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation of the intestines (e.g. Crohn's disease) were also found to increase the risk of developing listeria.

Those receiving cancer treatment or suffering from a variety of conditions, including diabetes, kidney or liver disease, should be offered appropriate health advice on how to avoid listeria. At present this is given passively and mainly to pregnant women, but clearly there are other groups of people who need to be advised on what they can do to protect their health.

Listeria can cause serious illness or even death in those people who have serious underlying health conditions. Taking steps to avoid infection is a very important part of managing their health and these groups need to be made aware of how they should do this.

The current public health advice to vulnerable groups on preventing listeria is to avoid the following:

- Prepacked or delicatessen sliced meats
- Soft cheeses - brie, camembert and chevre (goat's cheese)
- Smoked fish
- All kinds of pate including vegetable varieties
- Pre-prepared cooked and chilled meals
- Pre-prepared sandwiches
- Unpasteurized milk

Listeria monocytogenes
Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food  Listeria are known to be responsible for listeriosis, a rare but potentially lethal food-borne infection. The case fatality rate for those with a severe form of infection may approach 25%. (Salmonella, in comparison, has a mortality rate estimated at less than 1%[ Although Listeria has low infectivity, it is hardy and is able to grow in temperatures ranging from 4°C (39°F) (the temperature of a refrigerator), to 37°C (99°F), (the body's internal temperature). Listeriosis is a serious illness, and the disease may manifest as meningitis, or affect newborns due to its ability to penetrate the endothelial layer of the placenta  Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil, and animals can also be carriers. Listeria has been found in uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk, foods made from unpasteurized milk, and processed foods.Pasteurization and sufficient cooking kill Listeria; however, contamination may occur after cooking and before packaging. For example, meat-processing plants producing ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, must follow extensive sanitation policies and procedures to prevent Listeria contamination.

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