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Older Americans, Pregnant Women Face Highest Risk from Listeria Food Poisoning

Most recent outbreaks linked to soft cheese, raw produce

Listeria can cause serious infection in certain vulnerable groups, resulting in higher rates of hospitalization and death than most other bacteria commonly spread by contaminated food. A new Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the key groups particularly hard hit by listeria food poisoning. It also highlights the importance of safety measures to prevent contamination of cheese and raw produce, such as those included in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.

Adults aged 65 years and older are among the groups most affected; they are four times more likely to get listeria infection than the general U.S. population. Pregnant women are 10 times more likely get it and pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely. These groups – along with newborns and people with other health conditions that weaken their immune systems – account for at least 90 percent of reported listeria infections. The Vital Signs report highlights the need to educate these groups about how to prevent listeria infections.

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