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Ask The Expert: Listeria outbreak

Updated: Wednesday, August 13 2014, 05:29 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A local women's health office continued to get dozens of calls from women who were pregnant after certain fruits were linked to an outbreak of a common bacteria.

It wasn't unusual for Doctor Bill Schnettler, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, to get a lot of questions from many of the moms he see's each day expecting a baby.  But when recent headlines hit that the bacteria known as "listeria" was spreading across the country the calls increased.  Listeria was being reported in foods it was not usually found in; mainly pitted fruits such as peaches and plums and nectarines.

The phone calls in his office went way up, "We had about two to three dozen calls per day last week and into early this week," said Dr. Schnettler.

Listeria is a common bacteria found in many foods such as deli meats and most of us can fight it off and not get sick from it.

But Dr. Schnettler said, "We worry about pregnancy where women have a little bit of decreased immunity, specifically in the third trimester when they are likely, more likely, to get sick.  Or pass that on to their fetus."

He wanted soon-to-be-moms to know certain things.  First, the outbreak started in June so if a woman was pregnant and had eaten anything from June until now they should be aware of symptoms, fever and back pain.
 
Since those are common symptoms of pregnancy know the timing of when a potentially contaminated food was ingested.

"Typically they are on a course of one to two weeks after ingestion.  However, they can be up to 90 days and so we are still potentially in that scare," said Dr. Schnettler.

He said if a woman was pregnant and had eaten these foods in that time frame, "We were telling our patients, as long you don't have symptoms and you don't feel any different than you did before you ate the peach, you are OK."

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