Listeria is an organism that contaminates food and can result in pregnant women going into premature labour or even losing their babies. The Conversation Africa’s health and medicine editor Candice Bailey spoke to Kerrigan McCarthy from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases about listeriosis and why it needs attention. CANDICE BAILEY: What is listeriosis and why is it dangerous? KERRIGAN MCCARTHY: Listeriosis is a serious bacterial infection caused by the rod shaped bacteria listeria monocytogenes. The bacterium is spread when people eat food contaminated with the bacterium. The most common foods to be contaminated are raw or unpasteurised milk as well as soft cheeses, or vegetables, processed foods and ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products. Infection with listeria bacteria results in mild to severe gastroenteritis. In people with weak immune systems it can lead to meningitis or septicaemia. And in pregnant women, listeriosis can result in a miscarriage or stillbirth...

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