Symptoms of listeriosis (Listeria)

Learn about the symptoms of listeriosis and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of listeriosis?

While many people are exposed to the Listeria bacteria, only some will become ill due to listeriosis. 

Symptoms of listeriosis can start as early as 3 days after eating contaminated food. You may have the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • constipation
  • muscle aches

In severe cases, the bacteria can spread to the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and nerves). Symptoms of severe listeriosis include:

  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • headache
  • loss of balance

Symptoms of severe listeriosis may appear up to 70 days after you have been exposed to Listeria.

What do you do if you become ill?

If you have the listed symptoms, contact your health care provider, especially if you are pregnant.

Severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration (loss of fluids). To protect against dehydration, drink plenty of fluids.

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