If you’ll be traveling to Spain in the near future, this is what you need to know about the country’s biggest-ever listeria outbreak.
Spain is currently in the throes of its biggest listeria outbreak to date and holidaymakers are being warned to stay safe and keep an eye out for symptoms.
Over 150 people have already been affected by the outbreak and over 500 patients are currently being tested for the infection. Andalusia currently has the largest number of listeria patients but there have been other reported cases in regions such as Madrid, Catalonia and Extremadura.
What is Listeria?
Listeria is an infection that is caught from eating foods that contain a specific type of bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes). Deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses are the most common carriers of the bacteria.
In most instances, the infection only results in mild illness but it can be much more dangerous to those with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women and patients over the age of 65. Well over a thousand people contract listeriosis every year, a hundred of which succumb to their symptoms.
Listeria is a food-borne disease. The only exception is in the case of pregnant women, who can transfer the infection to their baby. Listeria is not contagious.
Keep an Eye Out for These Symptoms
Symptoms of listeria last for several days and include a lot of flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea.
In some severe cases, the bacteria can cause brain-related conditions such as abscesses and meningitis.
Symptoms will generally show up a few days after you’ve eaten contaminated food but in some cases, symptoms only show up a month after infection.
Listeria infections can last anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on how severe each case is.
Protecting Yourself from Listeriosis While on Vacation in Spain
Here are a few tips that can reduce your risks of contracting listeria.
- If you will be purchasing and eating any fresh produce, make sure that you run it underwater for at least a minute and dry it before consuming it.
- Thoroughly cook any raw meat
- Think twice about eating soft cheeses, sprouts, deli meats and hot dogs
- Ensure your hands are clean before handling any food
- Since listeria can still grow in a refrigerator, it’s best to clean the shelves and walls with soap and water before storing any food in it
- Avoid restaurants with buffets, salad bars and unclean surfaces
- Always place food in a closed plastic bag before throwing it away
- Keep all cooking surfaces clean before and after food preparation
Listeria is not necessarily a serious infection but it’s not something you want to deal with while you’re on vacation, which is why it’s best to know what to look out for. If you notice any symptoms, contact a doctor in your area using the Air Doctor app.