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Listeriosis

What is Listeriosis?
Where is Listeria found?
What are the symptoms of Listeriosis?
How is Listeria spread?
How can I keep from getting Listeriosis?
How else can I keep from getting Listeriosis from food?
If I’ve been exposed to Listeria, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for Listeriosis? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of Listeriosis have been reported in Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on Listeria?

What is Listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a serious disease caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. It usually will cause a mild fever but can cause infections in the brain and bloodstream in children and adults. Those at highest risk are infants, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems.

In pregnant women, the infection can result in preterm delivery miscarriage, stillbirth or life threatening infections in the baby.

Where is Listeria found?
It can be found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacteria without appearing ill. Many human cases result from eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

What are the symptoms of Listeriosis?
The symptoms of Listeriosis include: fever, sometimes preceded by diarrhea; headache, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. 

How is Listeria spread?
In most cases Listeriosis occurs when a person eats food that has been contaminated with Listeria. It cannot be spread from person-to-person.

Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in some ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.

How can I keep from getting Listeriosis?

CheeseThose with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, should also avoid certain foods:

How else can I keep from getting Listeriosis from food?

If I’ve been exposed to Listeria, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms of Listeriosis can take a long time to develop—up to 70 days. On average, symptoms occur within three weeks of consuming the contaminated product. If you develop flu-like symptoms within two months of eating contaminated food, contact your health care provider. He or she may do a blood or spinal fluid test.

What treatments are available for Listeriosis? How serious is the disease?
Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics. In serious cases, the illnesses can result in death, even with treatment.

How many cases of Listeriosis have been reported in Kentucky?
Listeria is rare in Northern Kentucky—the average number of cases per year is less than one. 

Where can I get more information on Listeria?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention