Listeria food poisoning, also known as listeriosis, is caused by an infection by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. It is a rare, but lethal, type of food poisoning with a mortality rate of 25%. The ingestion of as little as a thousand cells of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause the illness.
The bacteria causing listeria food poisoning are surprisingly hardy, able to survive and grow in temperatures as low as in a refrigerator and as high as a person’s normal internal body temperature. The bacteria are common in soil, water, and both domesticated and wild animals. There are a wide variety of foods associated with outbreaks of listeria food poisoning, including deli meat, hot dogs, raw meats, raw poultry, ice cream, vegetables, and smoked fish. The bacteria can also live in the intestines of humans for long periods of time without causing illness.
Symptoms of listeria food poisoning can appear in anywhere from 3 to 70 days after becoming infected, most often appearing between the 4th and 21st day. Within that time, the listeria bacteria will have spread to different systems of the body, including the heart, central nervous system, and the eyes. General symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and muscle aches. If the illness is affecting the nervous system, symptoms including stiff neck, headache, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions may occur. If the illness is affecting the brain, it may mimic symptoms of a stroke.
The elderly, infants, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems are the most likely to develop complications from listeria food poisoning. Part of the deadliness of the infection can be traced to the illnesses’ tendency to developing into meningitis after spreading to the nervous system. The listeria bacteria also has the ability to cross the placenta and infect infants in the womb. The expectant mother will either show no signs of the infection or will have very mild flu-like symptoms. Listeria food poisoning during pregnancy can result in miscarriage or stillbirth of the baby.
A blood test is the most reliable method to find out if an individual is suffering from listeria food poisoning. Even with prompt treatment, some cases will result in death. If an infection is suspected during a pregnancy, antibiotics are given promptly to reduce the risk of the illness being passed to the infant. Babies are given the same types of antibiotics as the adults, just in much smaller doses.
Though occurring relatively rarely, listeria food poisoning remains a threat to the health of the public. It has been estimated that close to 2,500 cases of listeria food poisoning occurs in the United States every year. 500 of these cases will result in death. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract a case of listeria food poisoning than the general public, a fact that is worrisome because the infection can be transferred to the fetus in the womb.
The Information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. If you feel that you or someone you know has food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately by visiting your doctor of by dialing 911.
Do I have a Listeria Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
The Personal Injury Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in food poisoning lawsuits. We are handling individual and group outbreak litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of food poisoning, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries by filing a food poisoning lawsuit and we can help.