What Is "Listeria?"

October 11, 2011 Updated Oct 11, 2011 at 10:31 AM EDT

By WKBW News

October 11, 2011 Updated Oct 11, 2011 at 10:31 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Recent fresh cut cantaloup recalls have mentioned the threat of "listeria." Dr. Raul Vazquez explains what that is on "Eyewitness News This Morning" with Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery.

Dr. Vazquez offers some information on what Listeria is, the signs, and possible treatment.

Click the video for more.

Pregnant women and people who have weak immune systems are at highest risk of contracting a listeria infection.

Pregnant women and their babies
Pregnant women are significantly more susceptible to listeria infections than are other healthy adults. Although a listeria infection may cause only a mild illness in the mother, consequences for the baby may include:

Premature birth
A potentially fatal infection after birth
People who have weak immune systems
This category includes people who:

Are over 60
Are undergoing chemotherapy
Have diabetes or kidney disease
Take high-dose prednisone or certain rheumatoid arthritis drugs
Take medications to block rejection of a transplanted organ

Precautions for people particularly at risk
If you're at risk of a listeria infection — you're pregnant or you have a weak immune system — you may want to be particularly cautious about listeria. Take additional precautions with these types of foods:

Soft cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses. Don't eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, unless it's clear from the packaging that the product was made using pasteurized milk.
Hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats. Avoid hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats, unless they're reheated until steaming hot. Keep fluid from hot dog packages away from other foods, utensils and food preparation surfaces. Wash your hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats.

Meat spreads. Don't eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads are acceptable.
Refrigerated smoked seafood. Don't eat refrigerated smoked seafood. Such products may be labeled as nova style, lox, kippered or jerky. One exception is if you're using these products in a casserole or other cooked dish. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood is acceptable.