Posts Tagged ‘bacteria’

Listeriosis – serious food poisoning

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning caused by harmful germs in something you eat or drink, is especially serious when you’re pregnant. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache.

There are over 1,600 new cases of listeriosis each year in the United States. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weakened immune system, including pregnant women. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious health problems for your growing baby including miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birthweight, and life-threatening infections.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get this serious form of food poisoning than others in the general population. And the risk is 24 times higher among pregnant Hispanic women, according to the Vital Signs report, released Tuesday by the CDC. 

Most people get listeriosis by eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria Listeria. Food can come in contact with Listeria in soil, water, animals or animal poop.
Foods that may have Listeria include:
• Vegetables that come in contact with animal poop in the soil or in fertilizer
• Meats, including beef, pork and chicken
• Unpasteurized milk and foods made with it. If a food has been pasteurized, it’s been heated to kill bad germs. Milk and juices often are pasteurized. Look for the word “pasteurized” on the product label.
• Hot dogs (and juice from hot dogs) and deli meats, like ham, turkey, salami and bologna
• Pre-made or cold salads from delis or salad bars
• Pates or meat spreads that have been kept in a refrigerator. Canned meat spreads are safe.
• Soft cheeses, like feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela
• Smoked fish (nova style, lox, kippered or jerky) that has been kept in a refrigerator. Smoked fish is safe if it’s canned or you use it in a cooked dish (like a casserole).

Foods can cross contaminate each other. Cross contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria from one thing to another. For example, if you use the same knife to cut raw chicken and tomatoes and don’t wash the knife in between, it can pass Listeria from the chicken to the tomatoes. Or if you get juice from a hot dog package on a knife, it can pass Listeria from the knife to the next food you cut.

You may hear news stories about foods that have been recalled (not allowed to be sold) because of listeriosis. If you’ve eaten one of these foods, call your health care provider right away.

Signs and symptoms of listeriosis usually start a few days after you’ve eaten infected food. But it can take up to 2 months for them to appear. To test for listeriosis, your provider takes a sample of your blood or urine, or fluid from your spine. Your provider sends the sample to a lab for testing.

Listeriosis usually causes mild, flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches, chills, nausea, diarrhea. If listeriosis infection spreads to your nervous system (brain and spinal cord), symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, being confused, trouble with balance or seizures. Call your health care provider if you think you may have listeriosis. Treatment depends on your symptoms. During pregnancy, quick treatment with antibiotics can keep listeriosis from harming your baby.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent listeriosis:
• Handle foods safely when you wash, prepare, cook and store them. 
• Wash your hands well with soap and water after contact with animals, animal food, bedding, tanks or animal poop.
• Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom.
• Watch out for cross contamination between yourself, food and any utensils or supplies you use when preparing or eating food.

When to use antibiotics

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

antibioticsThere was a time when parents who had a child with a sore throat or flu symptoms would ask their child’s health care provider for an antibiotic to help her feel better and get well and some providers would prescribe it.  But we’ve learned over the years that antibiotics, which are wonderful in some situations, are not the be all and end all and if given too often they may cause more harm than good.

First of all, antibiotics treat only bacterial infections. They do nothing to fight viruses which are the cause of most common colds, cough and flu. Secondly, if antibiotics are used when they are not needed or appropriate, bacteria over time can become resistant to them and then the bacterial infections they are designed to treat will no longer be curable by these medications. Thirdly, when an antibiotic is properly prescribed but the complete course of the drug is not given to the patient (your toddler feels better after six days so the complete ten day course is not followed), resistance can occur.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents to remember three important points regarding antibiotics:
1 – Do not ask your pediatrician for a prescription for antibiotics to treat your child’s colds and flu. This does not mean that you should not take your child to the doctor to be examined. Your doc will be able to tell you if it’s a viral or bacterial infection and whether or not she needs an antibiotic.
2 – When your pediatrician does prescribe an antibiotic for an infection, make sure your child takes it exactly as the doc tells you. Be sure that she takes all of it.
3 – Do not give your child antibiotics from a previous illness or one that has been prescribed for another family member.

Having the use of antibiotics at the right time can be a real blessing, even a life saver. Using them at the wrong time will do no good and may cause problems in the future.

What is chlamydia?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Chlamydia is a bacterium that causes a sexually transmitted infection (STI). A chlamydial infection contracted before or during pregnancy can be the cause of reproductive problems, so it’s important to clear it up a.s.a.p. About 2.8 million new cases of this infection occur every year in the U. S. in both sexes, making this one of the most common STIs. It occurs most frequently in people under age 25.

Chlamydia usually has no symptoms, although some infected women experience vaginal discharge and burning on urination. Untreated, chlamydia can spread to the upper genital tract (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often with a superinfection with other bacteria – so not nice!  And PID can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes and lead to ectopic pregnancy or infertility.

About 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States are infected with chlamydia. Untreated, they face an increased risk of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) (bag of waters) and preterm delivery. Babies of untreated women often become infected during vaginal delivery, and infected babies can develop eye infections and pneumonia, which require treatment with antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be screened for chlamydia infection at the first prenatal visit. Testing is easy and is done on a urine sample or vaginal fluid obtained with a swab. The good news is that chlamydial infection can be cured with antibiotics that prevent complications for mom and baby. It’s important to note that the partner of an infected woman also should be treated, because the infection can be passed back and forth between sexually active couples.

Ear infections and antibiotics

Friday, November 13th, 2009

19168604_thbBacteria have been around for more than 3 billion years and have plenty of practice in fighting antibiotics. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians issued treatment guidelines for middle ear infections that include, in certain cases, delaying prescriptions for antibiotics. There are concerns that the bacteria that cause middle ear infections, or Acute Otitis Media, are becoming resistant to antibiotics. In reality, 80 percent of children with Acute Otitis Media get better without antibiotics. Plus, each antibiotic given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat. This creates drug-resistant bacteria, which a child can pass along to siblings and classmates. Also, antibiotics can cause diarrhea or vomiting, and up to 5 percent of children are allergic to them. If you have questions about middle ear infections, talk with your pediatrician. For more information on your child’s health, visit www.aap.org.

Some antibiotics linked to increased risk of several birth defects

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

pills21An exploratory study has found that two types of antibiotics taken during pregnancy are linked to an increased risk of several birth defects. 

The two types of antibiotics are:

Nitrofurantoins, including Macrobid and Furadantin 

* Sulfonamides (also known as sulfa drugs), including Bactrim 

Penicillins appear to be the safest of the drugs studied.

Antiobiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections. Bacterial infections can be dangerous to the fetus if untreated. So antibiotic treatment is sometimes appropriate for pregnant women.

If a pregnant woman needs to take an antibiotic, she should talk about the pro’s and con’s of the various choices with her health care provider.

It is too early to say if the antibiotics linked to birth defects in the study are the cause of the defects. Something else may be the cause. Researchers are continuing to study the question.

One of the authors of the study told U.S. News & World Report, “The most important message is that most commonly used antibiotics do not seem to be associated with the birth defects we studied.”

The study was published in the November issue of the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Plum Organics: Baby food recall

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Plum Organics has recalled one batch of its Apple & Carrot Portable Pouch baby food. The company is concerned that the food may be contaminated with the bacteria that can cause botulism. Botulism can be a life-threatening disease.

The following code appears on the bottom of the packages: 890180001221. The food has been sold at Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us stores.

No illnesses have been reported. The recall is a precaution.

Symptoms of botulism include weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble speaking or swallowing. People with these problems should get medical care immediately.

Some children’s Tylenol products recalled

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Some Tylenol products for babies and children have been recalled because of possible contamination with bacteria. The products were made between April and June 2008. No illnesses have been reported by patients who used these products. The recall is a precautionary measure.

To see a list of the recalled products, visit the Web site of McNeil Consumer Healthcare. To find the lot number, look at the bottom of the box or on the sticker that surrounds the bottle.

Clarcon skin products recalled

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

lotionClarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory is recalling some skin sanitizers and skin protectants because disease-causing bacteria has been found in the products.

Some of the bacteria can cause infections of the skin and underlying tissues. These infections may need medical or surgical attention and could result in permanent damage.

Because the products are promoted to treat open wounds and damaged skin, the risk of infection may be high. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is telling consumers not to use Clarcon products and to throw away Clarcon products that they own. 

For a complete list of the recalled products, see the FDA news release.

Testing for GBS

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Next week I’ll be in my 36th week and I start weekly prenatal appointments until the baby is born. The majority of my visits are pretty  routine and include your basic physical: blood pressure, weight, listening to the baby’s heart, and measuring my belly. This upcoming visit however my provider is going to test me for Group B streptococcus (GBS, also called Group B strep).

GBS infection is a common bacterial infection that is generally not serious in adults, but can be life-threatening to newborns. All pregnant women should be screened for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The health care provider takes a swab of the vagina and rectum and sends the sample to a laboratory for a culture to test for the presence of GBS. Test results are usually available in 24 to 48 hours. Women who test positive for GBS are treated with antibiotics during labor.

Click here to read the March of Dimes fact sheet on Group B Strep Infection.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a special Web site devoted to Group B strep.

Bacteria found in some peanut butter products; risks for pregnant women and their babies

Monday, January 19th, 2009

peanuts2The Food and Drug Administration has found the bacteria Salmonella in some cakes, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy and cereal that contain peanut butter.

The bacteria has not been found in jars of peanut butter.

A person who has a Salmonella infection may have diarrhea, nausea, fever and cramping in the belly that may last several days.

If a pregnant women passes the bacteria on to her baby, the infant may have fever and diarrhea after birth. Sometimes the baby develops a serious condition called meningitis, an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain. 

For more information, see the recent FDA statement. Products that have been recalled are listed at the bottom of the screen.

To learn more about the risk of Salmonella during pregnancy, read the March of Dimes article.