Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that causes a severe foodborne illness known as invasive listeriosis which can lead to life-threatening infections in pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. If you contracted invasive listeriosis from eating food contaminated with listeria, our team of top-rated personal injury listeria lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
What is Listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a serious blood infection caused by the germ Listeria monocytogenes, according to the CDC. People typically get sick with listeriosis after eating food contaminated with listeria. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the Symptoms of a Listeria Outbreak?
Listeriosis symptoms vary depending on the form of life-threatening blood infection and may include:
- Flue-like symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Severe headache
- Muscle aches
- Stiff neck
- Loss of balance
Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of developing more severe listeriosis symptoms, including:
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Life-threatening infection of the blood
- Brain infection
Source: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
How Do Doctors Check For Listeria?
Since a listeria outbreak shares common symptoms with other foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli/salmonella, and because detecting the bacteria requires a blood test, doctors may not properly diagnose listeriosis for each patient hospitalized with the disease. Compared with other foodborne pathogens, however, the rate of detection for listeria outbreak is actually quite high, according to Robert Buchanan, Ph.D., director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Contaminated Food Safety and Security Systems. He said that estimates suggest listeria outbreak is accurately diagnosed in 1 of every 2 medical cases, whereas salmonella infection diagnoses are likely closer to 1 in 30.
“If you get a severe case of listeriosis infection, it almost always involves hospitalization,” Buchanan said. “Once you’re in there and they start looking around, the probability of them finding it is pretty high.”
How Do Doctors Diagnose a Listeria Illness?
A blood test is often the most effective way to determine whether you have a listeria illness, according to the Mayo Clinic . In some cases, samples of urine or spinal fluid will be tested as well. To help confirm the diagnosis from a listeria lawyer, your doctor might ask if you've recently eaten:
- Soft cheeses, such as brie, Camembert, or feta, or Mexican-style cheeses, such as queso blanco or queso fresco
- Raw milk or cheeses made of raw (unpasteurized) milk
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs or deli meats
- Any foods that have been recalled
Recent Listeria Outbreak / Recalls
- Fresh Express Salad Recall - Fresh Express recalled dozens of varieties of its branded and private label packaged salads produced at the company’s Streamwood, Illinois facility after at least 10 people developed listeria illnesses.
- Tyson Foods Chicken - In July 2021, the CDC and FSIS began collecting different types of data to investigate a multi-state Listeria outbreak of infections linked to frozen, fully cooked chicken products supplied by Tyson Foods Inc.
- Queso Fresco – Listeriosis - At least 11 listeria illnesses, 10 hospitalizations, and 1 death in 4 states linked to food contaminated with listeria. On Feb. 27, 2021, El Abuelito Cheese Inc. recalled quesillo and requested cheeses due to the listeria outbreak.
- Deli Meats – Listeriosis - 12 people infected with a listeria outbreak linked to Italian-style deli meats (salami, mortadella, prosciutto) were reported from Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and New York. All 12 people were hospitalized. One death was reported in Florida.
- Enoki Mushrooms – Listeriosis - 36 people from 17 states were infected with an outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes linked to Enoki mushrooms supplied by Green Co. LTD from the Republic of Korea. At least 31 hospitalizations were reported; 4 deaths were reported from California (2), Hawaii, and New Jersey.
- Hard-boiled Eggs – Listeriosis - 8 people from 5 states were infected with an outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes linked to hard-boiled eggs. Of 7 ill people with confidential or sensitive information available, 5 hospitalizations were reported and 1 death was reported from Texas. One illness was reported in a newborn who was infected with a listeria outbreak while the mother was pregnant, but the newborn survived.
- Deli-Sliced Meats and Cheeses – Listeriosis - 10 people from 4 states were infected with an outbreak strain of listeria linked to various meats and cheeses sliced at deli counters. All 10 were hospitalized, and 1 death was reported from Michigan.
Related Article: Chicago Listeria Lawyer
What Should You Do If You Have Listeria?
You should seek medical care and tell your listeria lawyer about eating food contaminated with listeria if you have a fever and other symptoms of listeriosis, such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, and muscle aches, within 2 months after eating contaminated food. This is especially important if you are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a compromised immune system.
If you ate food that was potentially contaminated with listeria and do not feel sick, you may not require tests or treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Talk with your listeria lawyer if you have questions about what to do after eating possibly contaminated food.
Listeria Outbreak and Pregnancy
During the first trimester of pregnancy, listeria food poisoning may cause the miscarriage of a woman's unborn child. As the pregnancy progresses to the third trimester, pregnant women are the most at risk from serious infection. Listeriosis can also lead to premature delivery of a low-birth-weight infant, or death of a woman's unborn child.
Fetuses who have a late infection may develop a wide range of health problems, including intellectual disability, paralysis, seizures, blindness, or defects of the brain, heart, or kidney. In newborns, L. monocytogenes can cause blood infections and meningitis. If you are pregnant and have symptoms of listeriosis, you should contact your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care provider immediately. Remember that it can take 2 months for symptoms to appear.
Fresh Express Recalls Contaminated Baby Spinach
In December 2021, Fresh Express recalled its branded and private-label baby spinach contaminated with listeria. The contaminated baby spinach was distributed through retailers in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S., as well as distributors and retailers in Canada. U.S. distribution of baby spinach contaminated includes the following states: CT, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, WI.
This recall was initiated when the Michigan Department of Agriculture received a positive result for baby spinach contaminated with listeria in a random sample test of a single package of Fresh Express 9 oz. Sweet Hearts packaged salads are produced with a Use-By Date of December 8, 2021. CDC reports at least 10 illnesses linked to baby spinach contaminated in the random sample beginning in 2016 to the present.
Philadelphia Woman Claims Listeria-Contaminated Baby Spinach Killed Her Unborn Child
A recent food poisoning lawsuit alleges that a woman’s unborn child died as a result of baby spinach that was contaminated with listeria. The pregnant woman was isolated at home during the COVID-19 pandemic when her grandmother purchased baby spinach to make smoothies, which were then drunk by the expectant mother and unborn child.
Later, she went to the hospital, where medics determined that her baby had no heartbeat. The stillborn baby suffered from premature delivery, and an autopsy confirmed that baby spinach killed the unborn child due to the listeria outbreak.
More Advice for Pregnant Women from a Listeria Lawyer
To help prevent listeriosis, pregnant women should avoid eating the following raw foods:
- Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk, including soft cheeses
- Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless they are heated until steaming hot just before serving
- Refrigerated pâté, uncooked foods, and hot dogs
- Refrigerated smoked seafood
- Unwashed packaged salads produced with leafy green vegetables connected to a listeria outbreak
Pregnant women should avoid all raw food and undercooked seafood, eggs, meat, and poultry. Do not eat sushi made with raw fish (cook raw food). Cooking and pasteurization are the only ways to kill listeria.
Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 
What Happens if Listeria is Untreated?
Most listeria infections are so mild they can go unnoticed. However, in some cases, listeria infection can lead to life-threatening complications, including generalized blood infections and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain (meningitis). To prevent a listeria outbreak, use these simple food safety guidelines:
- Keep things clean - Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy tap water before and after handling or preparing food. After cooking, use hot, soapy water to wash the utensils, cutting boards, and other food preparation surfaces for food safety.
- Scrub raw vegetables - Clean raw leafy green vegetables connected to a listeria outbreak with a scrub brush or vegetable brush under plenty of running water.
- Cook your food thoroughly - Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat, poultry, and egg dishes are cooked to a safe temperature.
Source: Mayo Clinic 
Does Washing Get Rid of Listeria?
Proper cooking or washing of fruits and leafy green vegetables connected to a listeria outbreak normally kills most bacteria that can cause listeria food poisoning, according to Forbes . However, people who are sensitive to listeria are very susceptible to infection. For these individuals, listeria can cause severe illness or even death.
As mentioned earlier, newborns and unborn children, frail or elderly persons, and people with compromised immune systems are among these sensitive groups. Some examples of people with suppressed immune systems include those with cancer (including leukemia), HIV/AIDS, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, an organ transplant, and anyone on a drug like prednisone or cortisone, as these work by suppressing the immune system.
How Do Doctors Treat Listeria Infections?
For minor infections with Listeria monocytogenes, medication may not be required. For more severe cases of listeriosis, antibiotics are the most common treatment choice; ampicillin can be used alone or in conjunction with another antibiotic (often gentamicin). If septicemia or meningitis occurs, the patient will be given intravenous antibiotics and require up to 6 weeks of care and treatment.
Related Article: Food Poisoning Treatments & Home Remedies
How Common is Listeria?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1,651 reported cases of listeriosis between 2011 and 2019. The case fatality rate was 21%. Cases of listeria were much higher for adults aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and unborn children.
Many of the reported foodborne illness outbreaks affected people in multiple states. For example, 12 listeriosis outbreaks combined to affect 224 patients in 38 states. Five of the largest and most recent foodborne illness outbreaks resulted from soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk that was contaminated with listeria.
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There are 3 simple things you can do to help prevent a listeria infection:
- Chill at the Right Temperature - The right temperatures slow the growth of listeria bacteria. Put a thermometer in the refrigerator and adjust the temperature control, if necessary. Put a second thermometer in the freezer. Your refrigerator should be set at 40°F (4°C) or below and your freezer at 0°F (-18°C).
- Use Ready-to-Eat Foods Quickly - Use ready-to-eat, refrigerated foods by the Use By date on the package. The longer they’re stored in the refrigerator, they become contaminated with listeria.
- Keep the refrigerator Clean - Clean your refrigerator regularly. Wipe up spills immediately so Listeria doesn’t have a place to grow and then spread to other foods contaminated with Listeria. Clean the inside walls and shelves with hot water and a mild liquid dishwashing detergent, rinse, then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Source: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
Do I Need a Listeria Lawyer? Free Listeria Poisoning Lawsuit Review.
The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of listeria lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in listeria lawsuits. Our listeria lawyer is handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases in all 50 states.
If you or an unborn child experience flu-like symptoms, please contact a listeria lawyer immediately for a free consultation. You may be entitled to a settlement for medical bills by filing a listeria food poisoning lawsuit and a food poisoning attorney/listeria lawyer can help.
Call the Listeria lawyers with Schmidt & Clark by dialing (866) 588-0600 or filling out the contact form below to get your free case review from our lawyers.
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