Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats.
Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization.
|Incubation Period||3-70 days|
|Symptoms||Fever, stiff neck, confusion, weakness, vomiting, sometimes preceded by diarrhea|
|Duration of Illness||Days to weeks|
|Who’s at Risk?|
|What Do I Do?||If you are very ill with fever or stiff neck, consult your doctor immediately. Antibiotics given promptly can cure the infection and, in pregnant women, can prevent infection of the fetus.|
|How Do I Prevent It?|
Listeria and Pregnancy
Listeriosis, an infection caused by Listeria, can pose major risks during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are approximately 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. In pregnant women, it is typically a mild, flu-like illness. In the child, listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or life-long health problems.
- During the first trimester, listeriosis may cause miscarriage .
- As the pregnancy progresses to the third trimester, listeriosis may lead to premature labor, the delivery of a low-birth-weight infant, or infant death .
- Infected newborns may develop serious health problems, such as:
- Mental retardation
- Impairments of the brain, heart, or kidney.
To prevent listeriosis and other foodborne infections during pregnancy, consult the Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy.
Listeria Infections (NIH MedlinePlus)
Trusted health information on causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
General information on diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and more.
Listeria monocytogenes (USDA)
General information plus directives and notices, compliance guidelines, and more.