Listeria Facts You Need To Know
(BlackDoctor.org) — Are you at risk from listeria, the deadly bacteria now in the news because of contaminated cantaloupe? The death toll is rising in what is now the largest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade.
Suddenly the spotlight is on listeria. What is it? Where is it? Who’s at risk? What are the symptoms? What are the best ways to avoid contamination?
What is listeria?
Like the famous mouthwash Listerine, Listeria monocytogenes was named after antiseptic pioneer Joseph Lister. It’s a very common bacterium with an unusual trait: It can grow at refrigerator temperatures. And it can build up in food-processing plants, where it can survive for years.
Where is listeria found?
Listeria is found in soil, groundwater, animal feed, sewage, and even dust. It primarily lives in soil, where the bacterium eats decaying plants. But once it makes its way into the food supply and is eaten by a human, listeria transforms into a very different bug — one that can live inside human cells.