Symptoms and Signs of Listeria (Listeriosis)

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Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022

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:
  • Intestinal illness – For most patients, no antibiotics; increase drinking non-alcoholic fluids unless more severe symptoms develop, then consider antibiotics listed below
  • Invasive illness – IV ampicillin and gentamicin for 14 to 21 days although ampicillin has been used alone in some people  

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.