Are You at Risk?

Photo: At Risk Population.

Infants and preschool children, adults 65 years and over, pregnant or nursing women, and immuno-compromised children and adults are considered at high-risk. These people may get sick sooner, have more serious symptoms, or need medical care. They should get advice from health care provider as soon as possible.

Why are these groups are at risk?

  • Infants and preschool children (those under 5 years old) do not have well-developed immune systems and cannot fight illness as well as older children.
  • Adults over 65 years old. As we age, our bodies change and the immune system may not work as well putting us at risk for illness. Some medications interfere with the immune system or digestive system, increasing our risk for illness. Also the body produces less stomach acid which offers some protection from harmful bacteria.
  • Pregnant or nursing women The immune system of the mother and the unborn child may be reduced and some types of foodborne illness, for example listeriosis, can cause stillbirth.
  • Immuno-compromised children and adults. People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, having certain diseases and/or taking certain drugs may have less effective immune systems. It makes them more likely to get sick from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Examples include: people undergoing cancer treatment, people with organ transplants, people with HIV or AIDS.

New government publications offer advice to high-risk groups:


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences