Risks of listeriosis (Listeria)

Learn what the risks of listeriosis are and who is most at risk.

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What are the risks of getting listeriosis?

While listeriosis is a rare disease in Canada, some foods are more likely to carry the Listeria bacteria than others. Some higher-risk foods include:

  • refrigerated smoked fish
  • raw or unpasteurized milk
  • soft and unpasteurized cheeses
  • ready-to-eat meats, such as:
    • pâté
    • deli meats
    • hot dog wieners

Who is most at risk?

Those who are most at risk of becoming sick with severe listeriosis include:

  • people with weakened immune systems (unable to fight diseases easily)
  • adults over the age of 60
  • the risk increases with age due to a weakening immune system
  • pregnant women, including their unborn or newborn baby

What are the complication risks?

If you have severe listeriosis, you can develop a brain infection and/or blood poisoning. Severe listeriosis can be fatal.

If listeriosis spreads from a mother to her unborn baby, it can cause:

  • a miscarriage
    • this is when your baby dies in the womb before the 20th week of pregnancy
  • a stillbirth
    • this is when your baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy (before delivery)
  • a premature birth
  • life-threatening illness in your baby shortly after birth

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