Alemtuzumab Safety Advice: Listeriosis prevention
- How to prevent listeriosis before, during and after treatment.
What’s the risk?
- Your immune cells are dramatically reduced when taking alemtuzumab. Until the immune system recovers you have a greater risk of contracting infections through food, such as listeriosis. This could lead to septicaemia and meningitis.
- The average time for the immune system to recover is 3 months.
What can I do?
- A week before you start alemtuzumab treatment, follow all these guidelines. This will reduce your risk of contracting listeriosis through food.
Avoid high-risk foods:
- Pre-prepared salads
- Ready-to-eat seafood (e.g. smoked fish) and raw seafood (e.g. some sushi)
- Precooked meat products (e.g. pate, sliced meat)
- Pre-prepared fruit or vegetable drinks unless pateurised or canned
- Unpasteurised milk or any foods made from it (pasteurisation is the only way to destroy bacteria)
- Ice-cream made from raw milk
- Ice-cream if not served straight from the freezer (e.g. soft ice-cream from ice-cream vans)
- Unpasteurised soft cheese (e.g. brie, Camembert) unless cooked thoroughly and served hot
- Ready-to-eat foods stored for longer than one day in the refrigerator
- Raw vegetables unless made yourself with thoroughly-washed vegetables
Eat safe foods:
- Freshly prepared and cooked foods to be eaten immediately
- Hard cheeses, cheese spreads and processed cheeses
- Freshly pasteurised or UHT milk and yoghurt
- Tinned and pickled food
- Vegetables and salads you have washed and prepared yourself
Prepare food safely:
- Stick to use-by dates
- Keep your kitchen clean
- Wash, peel, then rewash all raw vegetables, salads and fruits before eating
- Thoroughly cook all animal-origin foods, including eggs
- Ensure reheated food reaches at least 70C all the way through
- Ensure food is evenly and thoroughly heated when using microwaves
Store food correctly:
- Keep food covered
- Refrigerate all cooked food within one hour
- Consume food within a day of opening
- Put stickers on your food to remind you when you opened/cooked it
- Check your fridge is below 5C and recheck once a week [or month?]
- Only defrost foods at the bottom of the fridge (to stop dripping)
- Don't defrost food in the microwave or oven
- Clean the inside of your fridge once a week with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse
Be careful when eating out:
- Avoid buffet and street foods
- Avoid salads and raw vegetable dishes
- Avoid ice
- Check food hygiene ratings at ratings.food.gov.uk
- Only eat food if it's served piping hot
- Tell anyone cooking for you, or living with you, about these guidelines
- Remember: it is ok to enquire about how food is cooked when eating out
What do I do after treatment?
- Continue to follow these guidelines until your health team advises you otherwise
- If you develop a fever, severe muscle aches, confusion or vomiting contact your hospital. They may want to examine you and do a blood test.
- If you develop listeriosis you will be treated with antibiotics and you can continue alemtuzumab treatment once the infection has cleared.
What do I need to do now?
- Check the temperature of your fridge
- Dispose of all foods past their ‘use-by’ date
- Place food stickers on each refrigerated item
- Read our guidelines on food storage
- Clean you fridge thoroughly with soap and water
- If you would find it useful, use the food storage log
- Visit food.gov.uk
- If you have any outstanding questions please ask your MS team or consult your listeriosis prevention pack