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?|
At Risk Populations
Listeriosis, an infection caused by Listeria, can pose major risks for certain populations. Namely, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.
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.
Food Safety for Pregnant Women
A need-to-know guide for expectant mothers
FAQs for Pregnant Women About Listeriosis (FDA)
Common Questions & Answers from pregnant women about Listeriosis
As adults age, it is normal for their bodies not to work as well as they did when they were younger. Changes in their organs and body systems are expected as they grow older. These changes often make them more susceptible to contracting a foodborne illness such as Listeriosis.
Food Safety for Older Adults
A need-to-know guide for those 65 years of age and older
Other At Risk Populations
A properly functioning immune system works to clear infection and other foreign agents from the body. However, certain conditions including cancer and its treatments, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and organ or bone marrow transplants can weaken the immune system – making the body more susceptible to many types of infections, including foodborne illness such as Listeriosis.
Food Safety for People with Cancer
A need-to-know guide for those who have been diagnosed with cancer
Food Safety for People with Diabetes
A need-to-know guide for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes
Food Safety for People with HIV/AIDS
A need-to-know guide for those who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS
Food Safety for Transplant Recipients
A need-to-know guide for bone marrow and solid organ transplant recipients
Listeria monocytogenes (CDC)
General information on diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and more.
Listeria monocytogenes (USDA)
General information plus directives and notices, compliance guidelines, and more.
Listeria Infections (NIH MedlinePlus)
Trusted health information on causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Preventing Listeriosis In Pregnant Hispanic Women in the U.S. (BOOKLET)
A Community Educator's Guide To A Serious Foodborne Risk (available in Spanish and English)
The Dangers of Raw Milk (VIDEO)
Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk
Special Handling for Ready-to-Eat, Refrigerated Foods (GRAPHIC)
Reducing The Risk of Foodborne Listeria is As Easy As 1-2-3
Let’s Talk About Listeria (PODCAST)
Let’s Talk About Listeria (VIDEO)
Maribel's Story: How eating Queso Fresco harmed her unborn baby (FOTONOVELA)