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Listeria

General characteristics

General characteristics

Listeria is an infection with the organisms of the bacterial species Listeriaceae such as Listeria monocytogenes (affecting humans) and Listeria ivanovii (the non-human strain). The bacteria are found in the soil, many mammals including sheep and livestock, bird species including poultry, fish, flies, ticks and crustaceans and even commonly in the human digestive tract without problems.They can sometimes be found in unpasteurised milk or cheese products. Sometimes fruit and vegetables can become contaminated with the bacteria when they have been infected from an animal source such as farm water run off onto crops etc. The bacteria are quite capable of surviving and multiplying in foods stored in fridges even for long periods and can also survive low cooking temperatures.

Infection with Listeria commonly causes mild flu-like symptoms but can be more serious and severe in the young, elderly, pregnant or those who are immuno-compromised or already chronically ill. When infection takes over the body it is known as Listeriosis. More serious symptoms and complications include encephalitis, meningitis, endocarditis, nervous system problems and septicaemia. Symptoms of infection with Listeria include flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, fever and headache and tummy upsets such as nausea and diarhhoea. Symptoms of Listeriosis include headache, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions.

Listeria is considered a serious notifiable disease. Sources must be traced and identified to prevent further incidences and outbreaks from occurring.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

In the pregnant and other vulnerable people advise is to avoid eating foods such as soft cheese (e.g. brie, Camembert, veined cheeses and any unpasteurised cheese or milk product), refrigerated meat pates, processed meats such as hotdogs and burgers and raw or smoked uncooked seafood or fish. Do not keep refrigerated foods for too long and wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

Foods containing higher levels of calcium phosphate (such as anything containing corn oil or foods or drinks 'enriched' with calcium, such as cows milk, soya milk and breakfast cereals) have been shown to increase the likelihood of Listeriosis developing after ingesting contaminated foods.

Foods rich in fatty acids will reduce the pathogenic effects of the listeria bacteria, the most effective against listeria being the saturated lauric and palmitoleic acids. Such bactericidal fatty acid containing foods include cold pressed coconut and palm oil, human milk and organic, un-enriched cows milk.

Add plenty of raw garlic to your foods for its strong antibacterial action.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Goldenseal, wild yam and chamomile tinctures can reduce the effects of the bacteria and reduce the gastric symptoms. Use equal parts wild yam and chamomile tinctures and add a teaspoon to a little water, then add a few drops of goldenseal tincture to the glass and drink. Do this every few hours.

Drink teas made from any of the antibacterial herbs such as rosemary, sage, lemon myrtle, oregano and thyme. Use equal parts of any of the dried herbs and add a teaspoon per cup. Drink up to 3 cups daily.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Take 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar in a little warm water every few hours to help treat listeria infection or in fact any form of food poisoning.
A teaspoon of raw or manuka honey in water with a little grated ginger can be taken every couple of hours to provide protection against further complications.
Charcoal powder or tablets can absorb toxins and lessen the symptoms of listeriosis.

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