More listeria cases found in Capital Region
ALBANY, Aug. 16
By BENITA ZAHN
Two more cases of listeriosis has been confirmed in the Capital Region. The second and third cases were confirmed in Montgomery and Rensselaer counties.
Health officials won’t identify the patients, but say they are recovering.
The first case was confirmed in Schenectady County on July 28.
This followed three cases in Syracuse in early July. One of those patients died.
State health officials say the Syracuse and Schenectady cases have all been linked to the same strain of the bacteria. The first five cases involved women with underlying conditions, making them more susceptible to the bacteria.
The background of the Rensselaer County patient is unknown.
The state Health Department is still working on the Montgomery and Rensselaer county cases and haven’t linked them yet.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by the listeria bacteria. Listeria is found in soil and water, so vegetables can be contaminated. Otherwise healthy-looking animals can also carry the bacteria and contaminate food and dairy products.
Usually, heating or pasteurization kills the bug. But contamination can happen during processing, putting foods — including hot dogs, deli or luncheon meats, soft cheeses like feta, brie and camembert, seafood sold from a refrigerated counter and even ice cream — at risk of contamination.
The Centers for Disease Control say there are some 2,500 cases of listeriosis yearly. About 500 are fatal. Those most at risk are pregnant women — accounting for about a third of all cases. People with weakened immune systems, those with diabetes or kidney disease and the elderly are also at risk.
ìBut if it’s left alone it’ll attack the nervous system, specifically the meninges, and you get meningitis, and that’s what usually causes the death,– disease specialist Dr. Theresa Briggs said.
Newborns are also at risk.
ìIn newborns what it does is it causes the lysis or disruption of the red cells. So you have what is known as a hemolytic state, and there aren’t any intact blood vessels to carry oxygen and that’s why death occurs,– Briggs said.
Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea and diarrhea. If listeriosis spreads to the nervous system there can be headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.
ìIf you’re having diarrhea and you’re starting to have fever and you fit the epidemiological profile, a blood culture should be done,– Briggs said.
To protect yourself, follow the general food safety rules: thoroughly cook foods, keep raw and cooked foods separate, wash hands and all cutting tools after using, thoroughly wash uncooked vegetables and store food at proper temperatures.
Listeriosis is treatable with the antibiotic ampicillin.