Listeria is a bacterial infection which can cause influenza-like illness, meningitis, septicaemia or spontaneous abortion.

Where does the infection come from?

The bacteria are usually found in cattle, sheep, soil and silage. The bacteria has also been found in a range of raw foods including vegetables and uncooked meats as well as processed foods. A wide range of food products have been implicated in outbreaks including soft cheeses and meat based products. It is also commonly found in the human gut.

What is the incubation period?

This can be from 3 to 70 days but is usually 3 weeks.

How can I minimise the risk of this infection?

  • Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meat.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces, equipment and utensils.
  • Pregnant women and immuno compromised individuals should only eat thoroughly cooked dishes and pasteurised dairy products.
  • Keep ready to eat foods separate from raw meat at all times.
  • Thoroughly rinse salads, fruit and vegetables in clean, running water.

What should I do if I get this infection?

  • If the symptoms are severe and/or prolonged, seek medical advice. It is particularly important that young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those already under medical supervision are treated.
  • If a member of the household is suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, the infection could be passed on to others.
  • Clean and disinfect the toilet, toilet flush, taps and door handle regularly with a disinfectant.
  • Make sure you wash your hands after contact with an infected person.
  • If you work as a food handler, make sure that you tell your supervisor/boss and an Officer from the Food Safety Team.
  • When you visit the doctor, remember to say that you are a food handler (if this applies to you).

If you need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

The Food, Health & Safety Team

Tel: 01633 648009

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