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What is Listeriosis?


Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium (Listeria Monocytogenes) that is commonly found in soil, water and animal feed. It can cause a range of symptoms including fever, aches, nausea and vomiting as well as a gradual onset of confusion (Heymann, 2008). Most people only have a mild illness, but, if a pregnant woman is infected, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Infants born to infected mothers can also suffer a range of serious illnesses and complications (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


How does Listeriosis spread?


The bacterium that causes listeriosis is usually spread through food. Unlike most food borne bacteria, Listeria tends to multiply in refrigerated foods that have been contaminated (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).

Food associated with listeriosis include:


  1. Soft cheeses and soft-serve ice cream
  2. Dairy products like milk that are raw or unpasteurised
  3. Raw or pre-cooked seafood


Contact with infected farm animals can also spread the infection.


Incubation Period


The incubation period does vary between 3 days and 70 days but the average is 3 weeks (Heymann, 2008).


Infectious Period


Listeria does not spread between people but does spread between pregnant women and their unborn child, or during delivery of the infant.






Listeria is treated with antibiotics and it is highly recommended to seek medical attention














Heymann, D.L. (2008). Listeriosis: Control of communicable diseases manual. 19th Edn American Public Health Association, Washington DC. P.360.


National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Staying Healthy: Preventing diseases in early childhood education and care services 5th Edn. NHMRC, Canberra.

Read 2507 times Last modified on Friday, 07 March 2014 03:52

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