What is listeriosis? How can I avoid it? November 4, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment You’re on vacation, having fun, eating all kinds of new foods, but, then, it happens. It starts with a headache that quickly becomes a fever, and, suddenly, your dream vacation has become the stuff nightmares are made of. That is what listeriosis can do. Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating contaminated meat or produce. It usually only affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and adults with weakened immune systems. It is possible, though unlikely, that someone without these risk factors could be seriously affected as well. Symptoms are usually as simple as a fever and muscle aches combined with diarrhea or other forms of gastric distress. While for most individuals listeriosis is not that serious, for the groups listed above it can be very dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline a few key tips for how to avoid the disease and stay happy and healthy while at home or far, far away. Eat pasteurized cheeses and do not drink unpasteurized milk. Both of these food categories can be breeding grounds for listeria bacteria. Always be sure that the milk you purchase has been pasteurized and that cheese is marked as “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.” In some countries, it may be difficult to make this distinction, so you should avoid cheeses in this case and only drink evaporated milk, which should be safe. You should be fine eating any kind of well-cooked seafood. However, be careful with smoked seafood like salmon or tuna as listeria can potentially grow in these environments. If it is a canned or shelf-stable product, you should be fine, but, otherwise, be extremely careful. The CDC suggests that you remember ScRiDS, or Scrub, Rinse, Dry and Separate: Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Rinse raw produce, like fruit and vegetables under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking. Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel. Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. For more information on listeriosis or any similar maladies, especially when related to travel, feel free to contact a Passport Health travel health specialist though our website or by calling 1-888-499-PASS (7277).