How Long do Listeria Symptoms Last?

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness known as listeriosis. The duration of listeria symptoms can vary depending on the individual, the severity of the infection, and whether it spreads to the central nervous system or other parts of the body.

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms: The initial symptoms of listeriosis often resemble those of many other foodborne illnesses and may include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. These symptoms typically begin within a few hours to several days after consuming contaminated food.
  • Invasive Listeriosis: In more severe cases, listeriosis can become invasive and affect the bloodstream or other organs. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, and, in some cases, a stiff neck, headache, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. These symptoms are indicative of the infection spreading to the central nervous system.

The duration of gastrointestinal symptoms can vary, but they often resolve within a few days to a week. However, in cases of invasive listeriosis, where the bacteria have spread to the central nervous system or other parts of the body, the symptoms can persist and become more severe. The duration of these symptoms can range from several days to several weeks or longer, and they may require hospitalization.

It’s crucial to seek medical attention if you suspect you have listeriosis, especially if you experience symptoms that suggest the infection has become invasive. Listeriosis can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Prevention is key in avoiding listeria infection. This includes practicing safe food handling and cooking, as well as avoiding high-risk foods like unpasteurized dairy products and deli meats. If you believe you may have consumed contaminated food and are experiencing symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.