Listerin causes cancer

Listeria infections - rare but dangerous

At the end of January 2010, after intensive investigations, AGES was able to research the food that caused the infection: germs of the new strain were found on a quargel consumed by the sick from a Styrian farm. As a result, cheese production was stopped on January 23 and the affected goods were recalled. The Ministry of Health assumes that there is currently no risk to consumers.

Infection route through food

Listeria infections are very rare, but can be life-threatening. However, the risk of illness can be significantly reduced through kitchen hygiene and careful handling of raw foods. Pregnant women should completely avoid raw fish and raw milk cheese.

Listeria are rod-shaped bacteria that are widespread in the environment. They occur e.g. in sewage, soil or on plants. Animal and vegetable foods can be contaminated with it during processing. Raw foods are the most common source of listeria. The bacteria are resistant and multiply in the refrigerator even at low temperatures. Listeria infections (listeriosis) mainly occur through food and are triggered by a high number of germs.

Higher risk for pregnant women and immunocompromised

In healthy adults, the infection usually runs without symptoms or manifests itself as diarrhea or symptoms of a flu-like infection. Pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system - old people or the chronically ill - have an increased risk of developing the disease. The infection is also dangerous for newborn or unborn children, as it can be transmitted during pregnancy.

Signs and therapy

With listeriosis, symptoms show up within three to 70 days. The signs are sudden severe headache, high fever, nausea and vomiting. Listeriosis requires prompt medical treatment. Diagnosis is difficult because it resembles the symptoms of other pathogens. Listeriosis can lead to life-threatening diseases such as blood poisoning, meningitis or pneumonia. The pathogen detection is provided in the laboratory using blood samples. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Preventive measures

Listeria infection can be avoided through careful kitchen hygiene and careful handling of raw food. Boiling, frying or pasteurizing kill the bacteria. Pregnant women and people at risk should refrain from using raw milk products - appropriate labeling must be on the packaging.

Important hygiene rules are:

  • Cook meat and fish dishes through
  • Boil the raw milk
  • Wash raw vegetables and lettuce thoroughly
  • Rinse kitchen tools with hot water
  • Washing hands before and after preparing food
  • Cover food when storing in the refrigerator
You can find more information on the subject of "Listeria" on the AGES website.

last updated 02/19/10
Approved by the health portal editors