person putting ketchup on hotdog

What is Listeria & Why is it Linked to Food Poisoning?

What is Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenes, commonly known as Listeria, is a harmful bacteria found in nature that can cause the serious illness Listeriosis. Listeriosis is most commonly caused by eating food that is contaminated with Listeria.

Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness. It has a mortality rate of 20-30%, and 90% of people who develop the illness need to be hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that approximately 1600 suffer from Listeriosis every year, and 260 of those people die.

Listeria bacteria initially infects the intestines. However, the bacteria soon moves to the liver. In mild cases, the body’s immune system removes the bacteria through bodily waste at this point. However, if the body does not remove the bacteria soon enough, it can spread throughout the body and cause serious consequences.

Common Ways to Develop Listeriosis

Listeriosis is most commonly transmitted to humans by food that is contaminated with Listeria bacteria. Unfortunately, unlike other bacteria, Listeria can survive and even multiply in cold temperatures such as in a refrigerator. In addition, Listeria contamination usually does not alter the smell, taste, or text of the food which makes it harder to tell if a food is contaminated.

Foods that Commonly Contain Listeria Bacteria

  • Hot dogs

  • Sausages

  • Seafood

  • Deli meats

  • Ice cream

  • Fresh vegetables

  • Fresh fruits (especially melons)

  • Unpasteurized dairy products

Listeriosis Infection Symptoms & Complications

There are two types of Listeriosis: the non-invasive and the invasive form that have different symptoms. The non-invasive form of Listeriosis usually has mild symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, headache, and muscle aches. However, the invasive form of Listeriosis is more severe and can cause dangerous consequences in at-risk groups including infants, elderly people, individuals with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women. Although the pregnant woman herself will likely only develop mild symptoms, there is a risk that the infection can lead to a premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even a stillbirth. The symptoms for invasive Listeriosis often take longer to develop and are more severe:

  • Headache

  • Confusion

  • Stiff neck

  • Tremors and convulsions

  • Loss of balance

If the body cannot remove the Listeria bacteria on its own or an individual does not receive treatment soon enough, serious complications can develop:

  • Septicemia (the bacteria spreads into the bloodstream and can cause death)

  • Meningitis (the bacteria causes the inflammation of the membranes around the brain)

  • Encephalitis (the bacteria inflames the brain)

  • Meningoencephalitis (a combination of meningitis and encephalitis)

  • Cranial nerve palsies (paralysis and tremors)

  • Cerebral abscesses (localized pus build-ups in the brain)

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

If you or a loved one developed Listeriosis after eating a contaminated food, contact the Minnesota Listeria Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw for a free consultation today. We know that Listeriosis can ravage the human body, and we want to help you. Contact our team today and leave the sleepless nights to us.

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