April 24, 2024

Listeria Outbreak Leaves 5 in Hospital, 3 Dead in Washington State

Five cases of listeriosis in Washington State in the last several months may not seem like a mass of Listeria. But it is certainly enough to qualify as Listeria monocytogenes outbreak and get the attention of the authorities. Furthermore, these infections were so severe that the five adults affected—two men and three women—had to be hospitalized and three of them had already died, according to the Washington State Department of Health. That’s a bad, bad ratio.

Five cases of listeriosis is about one-fifth to one-half of what all of Washington State would expect to see in the entire year, ie based on numbers provided by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. A disease outbreak occurs when you have more cases than you would normally expect. So, it’s definitely an outbreak for the Puget Sound area to be caught up in all this Listeria.

And it’s not as if it were a random thing, separate from each of these cases, since he-could-leave-the-Brie-and-hot-dog-casserole-in-the-sauna-for-24-hours-and-then-still-eat-it happens. All five cases appear to be related to reality. Four of the five cases are from Pierce County and the other is from neighboring Thurston County. Whole genome sequencing shows that the bacteria from each case have similar genetic fingerprints, strongly suggesting a common bacterial source. However, the authorities have not yet identified what the specific source may be. Therefore, at this point, they cannot decide which food may need to be removed from the market.

even though Listeria monocytogenes usually found in soil, water, decaying vegetation, animal feces and other moist environments around you, you usually do not swallow such bacteria, unless you are in the habit of eating dirt or animal feces. The main route to your mouth is by eating food contaminated with Listeria. Common culprits are soft cheeses, hot dogs, lunch meats, deli meats, deli salads, refrigerated pâtés, meatloaf, and refrigerated smoked seafood because these are often not heated to the above 165°F needed to kill the bacteria. This is yet another reason why you should not drink cold hot dog juice that is just squeezed from hot dog packages. Remember the “hot” in hot dogs.

For people with healthy immune systems, the most common result of ingesting Listeria is several days of possible case and “can” is another word for toilet. That means spending a lot of time on the can, as diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea are the most common symptoms. High fever and severe headache can also occur, as I described Forbes before. Such symptoms often develop between a few hours and three days after you put contaminated food down your pie hole.

Speaking of holes, things get a lot more complicated when listeriosis listeriosis becomes invasive. In this case, it’s not like the bacteria start asking you very personal questions. The invasion here is physical, meaning that the bacteria goes from your gut and into your bloodstream and may spread to your central nervous system. This occurs much more commonly among those with weaker immune systems, such as very young children, adults over the age of 65, and those with chronic medical conditions. In fact, the five adults affected by this outbreak so far are in their 60s or 70s age-wise with weaker immune systems. Symptoms of invasive listeriosis include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. The chance of death goes up to 10% to 20% with such a condition.

Listeria infections can also get really complicated when you’re pregnant. Miscarriages, premature deliveries, stillbirths, and infections in the newborn. This is why doctors tell you to avoid food such as soft cheeses, refrigerated pates, meat sheets, smoked seafood, animal feces and rotting vegetation if you are pregnant. They don’t want to save more such food for themselves. Rather, they want to reduce your risk of consuming a contaminated item Listeria monocytogenes.

Speaking of contamination, authorities are still trying to identify which food source may have been contaminated with Listeria to cause this outbreak. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to take the following precautions. Avoid raw milk and cook your meat well, meaning the meat you plan to eat. And before you eat any raw vegetables, wash them well. Also, thoroughly clean anything that may have come into contact with uncooked foods. Finally, make sure you eat any perishable foods as soon as possible. Spending too much time admiring such food from a distance increases the chance that it will contain a bit of Listeria. And a little Listeria can quickly turn into a lot of Listeria.

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