Below are 15 things you need to know about a Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) from contaminated food.

Listeria monocytogenes
CDC image of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria
  1. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
  2. This illness primarily affects older adults, pregnant women (Listeria and pregnancy), newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, people without these risk factors can also be affected.
  3. Once ingested,  the bacteria colonize in the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. This initial infection may produce symptoms including fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.
  5. In most cases, the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract.
  6. If the infection spreads to your nervous system, you may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and/or convulsions.
  7. Pregnant women with Listeriosis may experience only mild symptoms. However, their babies may be born with listeriosis and suffer horrible problems including bacterial meningitis or death.
  8. The time period from ingesting tainted food to the point at which you start to develop symptoms (the incubation period) is highly variable. It can be as short as 2-3 days or as long as 70 days.
  9. The appropriate test to identify the presence of this pathogen is a blood test. If your infection has spread to your nervous system, a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) will usually be required.
  10. If you ate a recalled food product within the past two months, be aware of any of the symptoms described above. If you have those symptoms, contact your doctor.
  11. If you have symptoms of a nervous system infection including a stiff neck, severe headache, sensitivity to light, or confusion, seek emergency care because you may have Listeria meningitis.
  12. If you have a blood test or spinal tap that’s positive, your doctor or hospital is required to report your infection to your state’s health department. Confirm this has been done.
  13. If you still have the contaminated food product, make sure you save it (but mark it so no one else eats it).
  14. Save any receipts, credit card slips or shopper card information that proves you purchased the contaminated food product.
  15. If you have been diagnosed, contact experienced Listeria lawyers as soon as possible.

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Bad Bug Law TeamCopyright © 2016, Pritzker Hageman, P.A., a national food safety law firm. All Rights Reserved.