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How Long Do Listeria Symptoms Last?

How Long do Listeria Symptoms Last?

The duration of the symptoms depends on the individual’s immune system. Listeriosis is an infection that arises when you eat foods contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The listeria bacteria is usually found in soil, animal feces, and even water. This means that a wide variety of foods can be infected with the bacteria, even processed foods. It is crucial that one is careful of what they put in their mouths and most importantly, where they get their foods. Bacterial infections are plenty and no one is immune to their attack. Different victims of the listeria bacteria will react differently to the infection, which in turn determines how long one will suffer from its symptoms. With that said, it is ideal that you are aware of the listeria symptoms and how to manage them. For people who have risk factors, the treatment can last up to six weeks or more depending on the extent of the bacterial infection.

How Long Do Listeria Symptoms Last?

What Are The Symptoms of a Listeria Infection?

For many people with listeria, they will barely show symptoms at first or have a few of them. Symptoms will start to show a few days or even a month or more after ingesting the bacteria. The major symptoms a person with listeria bacteria will exude include;

In extreme case of listeria, patients can experience severe symptoms such as; meningitis, brain abscesses, headache, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions to mention a few. If the bacteria travels to your nervous system, that’s when the symptoms tend to aggravate and become unbearable. At worst, a patient can succumb to the symptoms and die.

Listeria and Pregnant Mothers

Mothers who are expectant are at a higher risk of listeria than a normal healthy person. Although they may experience mild symptoms the same cannot be said for the baby they are carrying. This is because it threatens the well-being of their infant, which might not survive the consequences of the infection due to a weakened immune system. This can lead to a miscarriage or stillbirth. Apart from death, the infant may be born prematurely or suffer from a life-threatening infection immediately after birth. As for the mothers, they will exhibit symptoms such as; vomiting, little interest in breastfeeding, fever, and irritability.

How Will You Know You Have Listeria?

It is easier to diagnose listeria during an outbreak. This is the case as many people are prone to contracting the bacteria, hence the diagnosis can be made early enough. Otherwise, if you experience any stomach problems, you can visit a primary care physician for examination. Doctors usually take a sample of the patient’s fluid – either blood or cerebrospinal fluid or any other bodily fluid – and screen it for the bacteria.

The Time Period of Listeria

Listeria bacteria will present signs and symptoms from as early as three days to as late as two months or more. The average time for symptoms to show after exposure to the bacteria is three weeks. For a normal healthy individual, the risk of getting a listeria infection after ingesting a food product that is suspected to have the bacteria is very small. When you start showing symptoms, only then should you consult a doctor for further treatment. This is because the bacteria will clear out after a while and treatment will not be necessary. However, for people with risk factors such as a weak immune system, old age, cancer, diabetes, AIDs or pregnancy, they are not safe from the claws of the bacteria. In patients with brain abscesses, then the infection can last longer up to six weeks or more.


Listeria is a food poisoning bacteria which can be found from raw foods, processed foods, and animal foods as well. Since they are readily available, many people who buy these foods can get the bacteria leading to an outbreak. Different patients will exhibit symptoms at different times over a period of three days to two months at least. The form of treatment applied is usually antibiotic therapy which helps in killing the bacteria. An individual who is perfectly healthy may not need treatment as the bacteria clears out on its own.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Listeria (Listeriosis).” Link
  2. Mayo Clinic. “Listeria Infection (Listeriosis).” Link
  3. NHS. “Listeriosis.” Link
  4. American Pregnancy Association. “Listeria and Pregnancy.” Link
  5. FoodSafety.gov. “Listeria (Listeriosis).” Link

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 18, 2023

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