In this condition factsheet:
Listeriosis is diagnosed by laboratory testing of blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or stool samples. Because the symptoms of listeriosis closely resemble those caused by the flu and by other foodborne illnesses, many people are unaware that they have it. This, in addition to the potential severity of the disease, makes the prevention of listeriosis even more important.
Treating and Preventing Listeriosis
Once diagnosed, listeriosis can be treated using antibiotics. There is no vaccine for listeriosis. However, listeriosis can easily be prevented, simply by following proper food handling practices.
Protect yourself from listeriosis by following these food safety tips:
- Avoid eating soft cheeses (e.g., Brie, Camembert) or refrigerated meat spreads or pâtés, especially if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
- Avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products.
- Clean utensils and working area used to prepare food with a diluted bleach solution. To prepare the solution, mix 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of bleach with 3 cups (750 mL) of water.
- Defrost food in cold water, the microwave, or the refrigerator, but never at room temperature.
- Keep raw meat separate from other foods in your shopping cart while at the store, in the refrigerator, and during preparation. This will help prevent cross contamination.
- Regularly clean and disinfect your refrigerator. Listeria can survive and continue to grow even when in the refrigerator. Cleaning the refrigerator more frequently will reduce the risk of transferring Listeria from contaminated food and surfaces to other foods.
- Reheat leftovers and ready-to-eat foods like hot dogs until steaming hot.
- Thoroughly cook food before serving to kill Listeria, although this does not guarantee that it is safe to eat if proper food handling processes after cooking were not followed (e.g., the cooked food is cross-contaminated by infected, raw food).
- Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after handling food.