It seems like every couple of months a new listeria outbreak is announced. When food items are recalled, you know to purge the kitchen of the potentially contaminated food, but you may not really know what listeria is or how it can affect your aging relative’s health. Gaining a better understanding of listeria could help you to spot the signs of listeria infection in your elderly family member and help them to avoid it.
What is Listeria?
Listeria is a kind of bacteria that infects people through consuming contaminated foods. When a person has a listeria infection, it is called listeriosis. The most common way that people get listeriosis is by eating deli meats that weren’t processed correctly or through unpasteurized dairy products. In fact, a recent listeria outbreak that killed one person and made eight others ill was traced back to deli meats and cheeses that were sold in four states.
Although listeriosis is rarely serious for healthy individuals, older adults who have compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for complications that can lead to death. Being treated for listeriosis early can reduce the chances of developing complications.
Symptoms of Listeria Infection
It can take a long time after eating a contaminated food for symptoms to appear. Usually symptoms start within 3 days, but it can take a month or more. Common symptoms of listeria include:
* Muscle aches.
If the infection spreads to the nervous system, your aging relative may also experience:
* Stiff neck.
* Balance problems.
* Being less alert.
Preventing Listeria Infection
Listeria infections can be prevented by taking precautions with the food that your aging relative eats. Some ways to avoid listeria are:
Clean Surfaces and Hands: Before preparing food, make sure you or the older adult washes their hands thoroughly using soap and water. Wash countertops, cutting boards, and utensils after preparing foods.
Wash Vegetables: All raw vegetables should be scrubbed before using.
Cook Food Thoroughly: Use a meat thermometer to check that all meats and poultry are cooked through.
As an extra precaution, the Mayo Clinic recommends that those with weakened immune systems avoid eating or be extra careful with the following foods:
* Soft and Mexican-style cheeses that have not been made using pasteurized milk.
* Hot dogs, lunch meats, and deli meats.
* Meat spreads and pates.
* Refrigerated smoked seafood.
Elderly care can help your older family member to prevent a listeria infection. Elderly care providers can prepare meals for the elderly person, following proper safety measures to clean produce and cooking surfaces. Elderly care providers can also help seniors to avoid foods that are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care Services in Evanston IL, contact the caring staff at Gentle Home Services. Call today (800) 860-9823.