Doctor on Listeria: ‘Don’t panic’


BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Listeria is bacteria and it is at the center of a probe into the Schwebel Baking Company in Youngstown. While investigators are trying to determine if there has been any contamination there, many are wondering exactly what Listeria is and how it can affect us.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are three groups that are most at risk if exposed: Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.

Doctor Denise Bobovnyik of Canfield said Listeria is all around. It is most common in meats and cheeses. The bacteria are killed when it’s cooked in food. But she said milk brings another level of risk for people who drink unpasteurized products.

“Unpasteurized milk is now the big thing. You are drinking pure, fresh milk straight from the cow, well pasteurization kills this,” Bobovnyik said.

The bacteria cause two illnesses. Most people get flu-like symptoms, headaches, vomiting and nausea that goes away in 24 hours. You can also eat something and have no symptoms but it’s in your blood.

“Fifteen to 25 days later, you get sick and you get very sick and then you have meningitis, a change in mental status,” Bobovnyik said.

The CDC concludes that pregnant women are 10 times more likely to have symptoms from Listeria. Bobovnyik said other risk factors include those who are on steroid medication, taking chemo therapy or the elderly. She warns anyone woman who thinks her baby has been exposed to something to call a doctor.

Listeria is treated with antibiotics and most healthy people respond well to them.

“Don’t panic. There is nothing been found in the bread, this is just something to think about,” Bobovnyik.

Schwebel’s released a statement Wednesday afternoon indicating that an independent lab confirmed the species of bacteria found at the Schwebel bakery in Youngstown is not of the type that poses a risk to public health.

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