Listeria is a common bacterium that affects pregnant women more often than other healthy adults. Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on your immune system that increases your chances of getting listeriosis (illness caused by listeria). Listeriosis may cause flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea or upset stomach). Call your health care provider. Antibiotics (medicines) are given to treat listeriosis. Even if you do not show signs of illness, listeriosis can be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta. This can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for your newborn. It's important to learn how to protect yourself and your unborn baby from food-borne illnesses.

Preventing Listeriosis

The USDA and FDA offer the following advice for all pregnant women:

  • Avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meat or deli meat unless they are reheated until scorching hot. Do not eat soft cheeses such as Feta, Brie and Camembert.
  • Avoid blue-veined cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses.
  • You may eat hard cheeses and semi-soft cheeses such as mozzarella, pasteurized processed cheese slices and spreads, cream cheese and cottage cheese.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads.
  • You may eat canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood (such as salmon, trout, cod or tuna) unless it is an ingredient in a cooked dish such as a casserole.
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
  • Because listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below:
  • Use all perishable items that are precooked or ready-to-eat as soon as possible.
  • Be sure to clean your refrigerator often.
  • Make sure the refrigerator always stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.