Symptoms and Signs of Listeria (Listeriosis)

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

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 diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle aches If Listeria monocytogenes infection spreads to the central nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or seizures. 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.


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