ABC-Animal - Environment-Fauna-Public Health Chronicle

Listeriosis and Listeria monocytogenes.
Are Your Animals at Risk ?

Have you heard of listeriosis and Listeria monocytogenes? In the summer of 2008 in Canada, authorities announced that some people had died from listeriosis. Public health officials then identified the source of contamination (cold cuts and cheeses) and pulled these foods off the shelves.

Who is this Bacteria?
Listeria monocytogenes is the bacteria responsible for listeriosis, an infectious disease that attacks many animal species. The infection can cause very serious health problems in animals and people with weakened immune systems: fever, diarrhea, vomiting, septicemia, necrosis of the liver, degeneration of the cardiac muscle, perinatal infection, meningitis, encephalitis and death.
Listeria has the gift of ubiquity, meaning that these bacteria are found everywhere in the environment: soil, water, vegetation, human and animal feces. Some of you may even be asymptomatic carriers! The risk of developing the infection is slim, unless a person is already sick or has a weakened immune system. If you or your pet develop symptoms of fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea, go immediately to the nearest clinic.

Prevention is the Best Medicine for Your Pet
No use panicking! There is no listeriosis epidemic in sight. But to diminish contamination, to prevent the bacteria surviving in the digestive tract and to avoid another outbreak of listeriosis, here are a few basic rules:
* If you give your pet raw meat, find out where this food comes from. The manufacturer and distributor must present negative lab analysis results.
* If these foods are frozen, do not thaw them on the counter. Always thaw them in the fridge, in cold water or in the micro-wave.
* Once the meal is over, quickly store the leftovers in the fridge.
* Do not give your pet any food (meat or cheese) that has been recalled by public authorities. Or if you must, make sure to cook it very well beforehand.
* Give your pet probiotics. These are good active bacteria which stimulate the immune system. Provide your pet with these probiotics if it is young, old, sick, and especially if it is taking antibiotics. The same rules apply to you!

Prevention is the best cure!

Consult the list of human food that was recalled from the Canadian market

Caroline Fortin, D.V.M.