Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Beware Those Cravings

Rare, but Dangerous

Everyone Needs to Know

But you don't have to be a fetus or pregnant to fall ill at the hands of Listeria. The bacterium sickens about 2,500 people and kills about 500 people per year, according to the CDC. In fact, the General Accounting Office lists Listeria as the leading cause of death among food-borne pathogens.

"Luckily, these food hazards are relatively rare, but they can have very devastating consequences," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, PhD, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

It starts with mild, flu-like symptoms that most people, like Lenkersdorf, dismiss. Few people seek immediate treatment because they don't know they have it. But if diagnosed early enough, antibiotics can prevent transmission of the infection to a fetus, doctors say.

Just Avoid It

Cold, even near freezing, temperatures do not easily subdue Listeria. So while the average refrigerator, maintaining the otherwise safe 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, can stop most other food-borne pathogens -- including the notorious E. coli -- from proliferating, time in the cold box doesn't halt Listeria.

"If you put a package of [tainted] hot dogs in the refrigerator for several weeks, a very small level of Listeria can grow into a serious contamination," says Catherine Donnelly, PhD, a food microbiologist at the University of Vermont.

DeWaal offers the following tips:

  • Consume only milk products made from pasteurized milk.
  • Avoid pâtés; soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, and feta; and blue-veined cheeses such as Roquefort.
  • Cook all raw meat thoroughly. Do not sample meat while cooking.
  • Keep raw meats separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Reheat leftovers and ready-to-eat foods such as cold cuts until they are steaming.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables vigorously under running water.

Rochelle Jones is a writer based in Bethesda, Md. She has covered health and medicine for The New York Daily News and The St. Petersburg Times.

1 | 2

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy