Listeria: What is it, and where does it come from? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Listeria: What is it, and where does it come from?

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Hy-Vee announced this week they are recalling all summer fresh pasta salads from their stores due to listeria concerns.

That recall affects nearly 50 stores -- two dozen of those stores are located in Iowa.

They join Sabra Dipping Company and Blue Bell Creameries among the companies who have recalled foods this month because of listeria.

But what exactly is listeria?

"Listeria is a very common bacteria. It can be found in soil, dirt, water. It can be found in our garden, in our yards," said Tim Link, an environmental sanitarian for the City of Dubuque.

Despite being so common, if it's ingested in large enough quantities, it can make you very ill, Link said.

Listeria is also one of the few bacteria that can grow in cold temperatures. That's why products like ice cream, hummus, and pasta salad have been recalled.

Most people will see no issues with listeria. It generally hits pregnant women, newborns and the elderly the hardest.

It can cause swelling of the brain, blood infections and even death.

Symptoms include sudden fever, headaches and nausea. 

If you're worried about listeria, here are a few easy prevention tips:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption.
  • Avoid unpasteurized cheeses, like brie or blue cheese.
  • Thoroughly heat up leftovers, or ready-to-eat foods, like hot dogs.
  • Avoid cold cuts, or at least heat them up before eating.

It takes anywhere from 3-70 days to see symptoms associated with listeria, with an average of three weeks to see any issues.

If you believe you have any problems, you're encouraged to contact your health provider right away.

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