Learn how to keep your family safe from contagions.
The recent listeria outbreak in cantaloupes from a Colorado farm has spread through 24 states, killing at least 21 people and infecting 109 others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.
Listeria, a food-borne disease-causing bacteria known to be more deadly than widely known pathogens salmonella and E. coli, can live in soil, water and animal feces. Produce grown in contaminated soil can pick up listeria, and, if eaten by farm animals, can lead to contaminated meat and milk, as well.
“The reason you don’t hear about [listeria] that much is because this isn’t something that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people every year,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “It’s something we’re all aware of in the medical community. There have been occasional outbreaks, like the one that just occurred. So we need to be wise."
Listeria Prevention Tips
• Keep meats separate from fruits and vegetables when shopping.
• After food shopping, go home and refrigerate your food immediately.
• Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with water before eating.
• Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce.
• Cook food to steaming.
“If you have leftovers, or there’s some old fruit or something, and you’re just not sure [if it’s safe to eat],” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says, “just follow the golden rule: When in doubt, throw it out.”
Dr. Travis explains the dangers and symptoms of listeria poisoning. Listeria infections generally affect the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.
OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson reveals foods pregnant women should avoid due to their high risk of listeria contamination.
• Uncooked, ready-to-eat hot dogs and deli meats. Ask for them to be “heated to steaming.”
• Unpasteurized milk dairy products.
• Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, including queso fresco, feta, brie and camembert.
• Refrigerated smoked seafood.
• Store-made spreads and salads, such as ham, chicken, egg, tuna or seafood.
Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection that affects both children and adults. Pertussis is highly contagious, characterized by uncontrollable deep coughing and heavy gasps for breath. While anyone can catch whooping cough, it is particularly dangerous to infants and small children because they can cough so hard, they cannot catch their breath, putting their life in danger.
If one family member has whooping cough, there is a 90 percent chance each person in the house will catch it. "It's respiratory, it's airborne, so you can breathe that in," Dr. Sears says. "If it lands on a surface, it can get on your hands and you can put it in your eyes or nose."
Whooping cough vaccinations are available to both children and adults. Learn the importance of the booster, and how to keep your family from safe from pertussis.
“If you’re a new parent, for certain [you should be vaccinated],” Dr. Travis says. “If you’re around kids a lot, you should get the booster. It’s called DTaP – [diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis]. In that one vaccination, you’re protecting against three different [infections]."
Whooping Cough Symptoms
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion
• Red, watery eyes
• Mild fever
• Dry cough
• Hear the difference between adult and child whooping cough.
• How to diagnose a cough
Michael Jackson Trial
CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins The Doctors to weigh in on the highly publicized, controversial trial of Michael Jackson’s primary physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and give the facts on propofol, the powerful drug said to have killed the King of Pop.