With the news that hospitals have been put on high alert by public health officials due to a Listeria outbreak that has killed five patients, Dr Chris takes a look at the disease including the warning signs - and the foods pregnant women should be especially careful of.
What is listeria?
Listeria is a bacterium that can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis. Usually the symptoms are mild - a high temperature, chills, feeling sick - and will go away on their own after a few days, but in serious cases listeria can cause damage to organs, or spread to the brain or bloodstream, which can be fatal.
Listeria can be found in unpasteurised milk and in many chilled foods, including:
- not eating certain foods while pregnant, such as some soft cheeses and all types of pâté
- not drinking unpasteurised milk – only drink pasteurised or UHT milk
- heating ready meals or reheated food until they're piping hot all the way through
- making sure your fridge is set at 5C or below and working correctly
- not using food after its "use by" date