Crowd-funding: Listeriosis Prevention Pack

We, Barts-MS, and the NHS needs your help to try and prevent Listeriosis after alemtuzumab treatment. We are raising money to produce a Listeriosis Prevention Pack. 

Barts-MS Listeria Prevention Pack Prototype

Barts MS Listeriosis Prevention Pack

We need to raise £7,000 which will be used to manufacture a large number of listeriosis prevention packs. The packs contain a food choice and hygiene manual, food stickers, fridge magnet, wallet card and thermometer. This pack, which has been designed by the Barts-MS advisory group, will engage both people with MS and healthcare professionals to take a pro-active approach to listeria prevention.

Why a listeria pack?

Currently, all we have is a single advice sheet with only basic information. We hope that we can fully prevent any unnecessary infections and enable patients, their family and friends to dramatically reduce the risk of infection.

The Barts MS team have developed the information in the pack with a cross-disciplinary team involving a listeriosis expert, people with MS, designers and healthcare professionals who will deliver it.

Why do we still need a pack? 

The reported incidence of Listeriosis post-alemtuzumab is reported as being 0.25%. In other words, 1 person in every 400 people treated with alemtuzumab gets Listeriosis. We are aware of at least one person who died as a result of this complication. 

What are we doing about it?

One solution is to provide prophylactic antibiotics. We use a drug called cotrimoxazole, a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The problem with this drug is that some people can't  take it because they are allergic to the drug and others refuse because they are really worried about the effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics have on their microbiome. The microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria that live in and on our bodies. 

An excellent, and currently best-selling, book 'The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat', by Professor Tim Spector, details the impact of broad-spectrum antibiotics on our health. As a result of this book, I have had two patients turn down the option of Listeria antibiotic prophylaxis as part of our Alemtuzumab treatment protocol. One said: 'No thank you; I don't want my microbiome bazooka-ed'. I seem to recall this term being used in the book. We, therefore, have to also rely on diet to prevent Listeriosis a potentially life-threatening complication of alemtuzumab treatment. 

We have therefore designed a Barts MS Listeriosis Prevention Pack and now need £7,000 for a manufacturing run. These packs will be distributed to all patients prior to alemtuzumab treatment; please note these packs are not only for Barts Health patients; we plan to distribute them to other centres if they want them. 

If you would like to support this programme you can make a donation via our Barts Health crowdfunding site

Thank you.

ABN Guidance on preventing Listerial Infection

Some background reading

Evans & Redmond. Older Adult Consumer Knowledge, Attitudes, and Self-Reported Storage Practices of Ready-to-Eat Food Products and Risks Associated with Listeriosis. J Food Prot. 2016 Feb;79(2):263-72. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-312.

Consumer implementation of recommended food safety practices, specifically relating to time and temperature control of ready-to-eat (RTE) food products associated with listeriosis are crucial. This is particularly the case for at-risk consumers such as older adults, given the increased listeriosis incidence reported internationally among adults aged ≥60 years. However, data detailing older adults' cognitive risk factors associated with listeriosis are lacking. Combining data about knowledge, self-reported practices, and attitudes can achieve a cumulative multilayered in-depth understanding of consumer food safety behavior and cognition. This study aims to ascertain older adults' cognition and behavior in relation to domestic food handling and storage practices that may increase the risks associated with L. monocytogenes. Older adults (≥60 years) (n = 100) participated in an interview and questionnaire to determine knowledge, self-reported practices, and attitudes toward recommended practices. Although the majority (79%) had positive attitudes toward refrigeration, 84% were unaware of recommended temperatures (5°C) and 65% self-reported "never" checking their refrigerator temperature. Although most (72%) knew that "use-by" dates indicate food safety and 62% reported "always" taking note, neutral attitudes were held, with 67% believing it was safe to eat food beyond use-by dates and 57% reporting doing so. Attitudes toward consuming foods within the recommended 2 days of opening were neutral, with 55% aware of recommendations and , 84% reporting that they consume RTE foods beyond recommendations. Although knowledgeable of some key practices, older adults self-reported potentially unsafe practices when storing RTE foods at home, which may increase risks associated with L. monocytogenes. This study has determined that older adults' food safety cognition may affect their behaviors; understanding consumer food safety cognition is essential for developing targeted food safety education.

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