Listeriosis also known as listeria infection is a medical condition caused by food poisoning; eating foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) cause this fatal disease. It can also be caused by Listeria ivanovii and Listeria grayi.
The causal microorganism L. monocytogenes are found in soil and water and they contaminate food and dairy product when they come in contact with them and they infect the central nervous system causing meningitis, brain abscess, cerebritis, meningoencaphalitis and bacteremia.
This infection mainly affects pregnant women, new born babies, aged individuals and adults with compromised immune systems. Babies can be born with this infection if the mother eats any food contaminated with this microbe during her pregnancy; healthy adults and children can become infected but they rarely become critically ill.
Symptoms of Listeriosis are fever, muscle ache, diarrhea, nausea and dizziness; if the infection enters the nervous systems, symptoms like headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion and convulsions can occur; if it affects a pregnant woman, signs like mild, flu-like illness are seen and it can cause health complications like miscarriage, stillbirth or serious infection of the new born or premature delivery.
A blood test or a spinal fluid test is used to confirm the diagnosis; antibiotics are given to pregnant women to prevent the unborn baby being infected with the disease; these same antibiotics are also given to newborn babies that have the infection.
Antibiotics mostly given are ampicillin and gentamicin because the microorganism is susceptible to these antibiotics.
This disease can be transmitted through oral route when contaminated food is ingested (that is to say it is a food borne disease); the microbe in the food then penetrates the intestinal tract and cause systemic infections.
How to prevent Listeriosis?
Listeria monocytogenes are everywhere in the environment and serious precaution is needed not to pick them up or eat food contaminated with them.
These microbes have been found in raw meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy products, soft cheeses, sea foods, unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized pate and post pasteurized milk.
The bacterium is not contagious from person to person but a pregnant woman can transfer the bacteria to her unborn baby.
- Wash your hands regularly; most especially before and after buying farm foods and after using the bathroom or changing baby’s diaper.
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables properly before consumption; wash them under a running water and when you are done chopping them, you can wash your knives and cutting boards properly to disinfect them.
- Avoid using the same knife and cutting board to cut meat and vegetables.
- Reheat left over foods properly because unlike most bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes can grow in the refrigerators.
- All meats should be properly cooked
- Don’t drink unpasteurized milk or eat foods made with unpasteurized milk.
- Public food workers should wash their hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t eat salads made in store; eat salads made in your home so that you are sure of the cleanliness.
- Pregnant women should avoid public foods or foods that they don’t know how it was prepared.
Herbal treatment/Natural remedies for listeria infection
Herbs and natural treatments that are potent in treating Listeria are:
- Goldenseal: Put 1 teaspoon of goldenseal root powder in a cup of hot water and drink it twice daily.
- Garlic: swallow a crushed clove of garlic with a glass of warm water daily.
- Lemon: Drink the juice of four lemons daily
- Grapefruit: Mix half teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract in one glass of water and drink it daily.
- Apple cider vinegar: In the morning, have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach
- Colloidal silver: Mix 1 tablespoon of colloidal silver in two cups of distilled water and drink it for 5 days.
- Water: Take not less than eight glasses of distilled water daily.
- Have enough rest: This will enable your immune system to fight the bacterium well.
- Coconut water: will help hydrate your body and replenish lost fluids
- Eat balanced diets: This will load your body with powerful fighting nutrients to fight off the infection.
- Use natural ways to reduce the fever; one natural way to reduce a fever or high temperature is by taking a lukewarm bath.
- Use heat or cold treatment: use a heating pad or ice pack to soothe an aching muscle for 15 minutes.
Recently in South Africa, there was a deadly outbreak of Listeriosis and the World Health Organization called it the “largest Listeriosis outbreak ever in south Africa” where 748 people are affected and 67 people have died from this food borne infection.