Listeria in Pregnancy
When pregnant women eat food containing the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, it can result in a stillbirth or the birth of an infant infected with the bacteria. Recently, CDC reported an outbreak of Listeria that has been linked to eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. As of December 18, 2014, twenty-eight people have been hospitalized and there have been four deaths attributed to Listeria. Nine illnesses were in pregnant women or her newborn infant.
Because CDC has not been able to identify the specific commercial product that is contaminated, pregnant women and children should not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples including those with special toppings such as nuts or sprinkles, and they should throw away any of these products that might be in their homes. For CDC’s advice to consumers, please click here.
Pregnant women who have listeriosis, the disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes, can have symptoms similar to the flu (chills, fever, muscle and joint aches, headaches), diarrhea, or can show no symptoms at all. These symptoms usually occur within a few days after consuming a contaminated food. Pregnant women who have these symptoms should see their health care provider. Other groups that are susceptible to listeriosis are infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. Generally, healthy adults are not often infected with the disease.
Other sources of foods are considered ‘high risk’ and have been associated with outbreaks of listeriosis. Pregnant women should avoid consuming these high risk foods such as unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses such as queso fresco that may become contaminated during processing, uncooked meats, and meats that may become contaminated after processing such as hot dogs, smoked meats, and deli meats. These meats should be cooked until reaching a temperature of 165⁰F or to steaming before being consumed by pregnant women. Because Listeria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, foods should be consumed by the expiration date on the container, and all leftovers should be consumed within 3-4 days.
For more general information on listeriosis during pregnancy, we recommend the following websites:
For updates on the current outbreak, click here.