In the largest Listeria outbreak in known history, 189 people are confirmed dead, with an additional 982 confirmed cases of Listeriosis since the initial outbreak in January of this year. The source of the outbreak reportedly stemmed from a meat production plant located in Polokwane, South Africa.
Listeria is contracted basically by eating contaminated food. With most people, under the age of sixty-five, symptoms of having contracted listeria include diarrhea and fever. Keep in mind though that more often than not, rarely is Listeria actually diagnosed. Also, the infection has a seventy-day incubation period, which means we may hear of more cases being reported. The ready-to-eat meat involved has a longer fridge life, and is prone to cross contaminate other items as well.
In most case, as stated above, those under sixty-five usually present with flu like symptoms. However, for older adults, those with weakened immune systems, and those who are pregnant, the infections are much more dangerous and can be life threatening.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year an estimated sixteen thousand people contract Listeria, with an estimated two hundred and sixty resulting in death. Another listeria outbreak, in the US in 2011, resulted in seven deaths. That particular outbreak resulted from contaminated cantaloupe.