This week on Your Health First, Dr. Joe Galati has an expert on the subject of Listeria. Dr. Amesh Adalja, from University of Pittsburgh, will discuss various aspects of Listeria infection, and what you need to do to prevent the infection.

Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats. 

Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization.

Listeriosis, an infection caused by Listeria, can pose major risks for certain populations. Namely, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women are approximately 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. In pregnant women, it is typically a mild, flu-like illness. In the child, listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or life-long health problems.

Older Adults

As adults age, it is normal for their bodies not to work as well as they did when they were younger. Changes in their organs and body systems are expected as they grow older. These changes often make them more susceptible to contracting a foodborne illness such as Listeriosis.

Food Safety for Older Adults
A need-to-know guide for those 65 years of age and older

Other At Risk Populations

A properly functioning immune system works to clear infection and other foreign agents from the body.  However, certain conditions including cancer and its treatments, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and organ or bone marrow transplants can weaken the immune system – making the body more susceptible to many types of infections, including foodborne illness such as Listeriosis.


Additional links on Listeria can be viewed here:

Food Safety for Pregnant Women

Food Safety Older Adults

CDC Listeria Page

Symptoms of Listeria

Listeria: Keeping Your Kitchen Safe