Days-old Prince George newborn dies of Listeria - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Days-old Prince George newborn dies of Listeria

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A Prince George couple is mourning the loss of their first child, just days after the little girl was born. Kennedy Grace Briggs died of Listeria at just six days old.

Listeria is listed on Kennedy's death certificate as an immediate cause of her death. Her mother, Jenae Briggs, says that while she was pregnant, she ate food that was part of a recent, nation-wide Listeria recall.

However, it's not clear if scientists will ever be able to trace the food source, in Kennedy's case. The Virginia Department of Health hasn't linked any Listeria cases to recent voluntary recalls. Regardless, Jenae wants other expecting couples to understand the risks associated with the illness, and how to guard against it.

Jenae says Kennedy was born a perfect angel on June 19, five weeks early.

"She was so loved," said Jenae.

"I always knew I was going to have a little girl, and it was her [Kennedy], a little redheaded girl," added Kevin, Jenae's husband.

However, Jenae and Kevin's joy over their new daughter quickly spiraled into despair. Kennedy had trouble breathing. She developed a rash. Doctors did rounds of tests and diagnosed her with Listeria.

"I was crying without even know I was crying, and I just said, 'I'm scared to death,'" recounted Jenae.
Baby Kennedy Grace held on for six days. "She was a fighter. She didn't give up," described Jenae.

However, Kennedy ultimately succumbed to Listeria and the meningitis it caused. "[Doctors] did everything they could possibly do for Kennedy because most babies with Listeria ...are stillborn," explained Jenae.
Health experts say pregnant women and newborns are especially vulnerable to the illness. The CDC warns everyone to wash produce, and cook meat and poultry thoroughly. Pregnant women should avoid lunch meats, soft cheeses, and anything unpasteurized. Still, Listeria can penetrate some porous foods, like fruits and vegetables, no matter what caution is taken.

"We have had to suffer the worst thing you could possibly ever imagine because of it. And so you want people to be aware of it," said Jenae.    

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