Doctor's Notes on Listeria (Listeriosis)
Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Listeriosis commonly affects newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who are immunocompromised (for example, patients with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, alcoholics, or those taking immunosuppressive medications).
Most healthy people who come in contact with Listeria monocytogenes will have either no symptoms or a self-limiting mild gastrointestinal illness. When symptoms of listeriosis occur they include
If Listeria monocytogenes infection spreads to the central nervous system, symptoms may include
Pregnant women who get listeriosis may have symptoms of a mild flu-like illness. In rare cases, listeriosis can lead to localized infections of the skin, heart, joint, or bone.
What is the treatment for Listeria?The treatment for Listeria nfections depends on the location and severity of symptoms, according to the CDC. For example:
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Food PoisoningFood poisoning is caused by viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, or chemicals that have contaminated food or drinking water. Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, abdominal cramping, dehydration, rectal bleeding, and bloating. Food poisoning usually can be cared for at home. In some instances (severe dehydration) a person may be hospitalized for treatment.
What Are the First Signs of Listeria?The first symptoms and signs of Listeria (listeriosis) can start within a few days after eating contaminated food, but the incubation period for Listeria can be long and symptoms may develop one month or more after ingestion. Symptoms of Listeria can come on suddenly and some of the first signs of Listeria may include fever, muscle aches, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Symptoms of Listeria may vary depending on which part of the body is affected. Listeria may also cause serious complications in pregnant women.
What Foods Contain Listeria?Foods that have a risk of listeria include raw (unpasteurized) milk, soft and semi-soft cheeses, hot dogs, deli meats, ready-to-eat meals, foods at salad bars/sandwich bars/delicatessens, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood, unwashed raw fruits and vegetables, soft-serve ice cream, and raw shellfish and seafood.
What Happens If You Get Listeria?Listeria (listeriosis) is a potentially serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, among others. It is usually not serious in otherwise healthy people.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.