Listeriosis is a disease caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium is present in the environment, particularly in soil, vegetation, water and the feces of certain animals.
People with listeriosis may have various symptoms. The most frequent symptoms of listiriosis are the following:
Most often, symptoms manifest themselves 3 to 30 days after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can sometimes appear even up to 70 days after. Pregnant women may experience symptoms similar to seasonal flu.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
Listeriosis may cause encephalitis or meningitis in people at risk. Bacteria can also enter the blood and cause blood poisoning.
In pregnant women, listeriosis can lead to premature birth or abortion.
Listeriosis is contracted by eating foods contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
The infection can also be transmitted to the foetus or newborn
The Listeria bacterium can be found in the following food products:
Cooking kills the listeriosis bacterium. However, in the preparation of industrial ready-to-eat foods (hot dogs, cured meats, etc.) contamination may occur after the cooking and before packaging of the product.
The bacterium can also multiply in cold temperatures (4 ° to 10 °C), in food stored in the fridge for example.
Lastly, Listeria contamination can occur from handling products (cross-contamination), i.e. direct contact of healthy products with contaminated ones.
It is generally recommended that you avoid eating foods likely to be contaminated with Listeria, especially for people at risk.
When handling food, you must take certain precautions at every step, from cooking to preservation.
You can find more information on the site from the ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ):
People in good health are rarely affected by the bacterium. Risk of listeriosis is weak in these people, even if they eat a contaminated food.
People most at risk of contracting listeriosis include:
A recall is a warning published about a food when the consumption of it is considered to be dangerous to health. Even when someone has eaten contaminated food, risk of listeriosis is very low. If you have eaten a recalled item and show symptoms within 2 months, contact Info-Santé 811 or your doctor.
To know the list of recalled foods, visit the websites of the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) (in French only) or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency .
Listeriosis has been a reportable disease in Quebec since November 2003. Laboratories and doctors that receive sample results from infected individuals must report all cases of listeriosis to public health authorities for tracking.
Last update: March 14, 2016 9:19 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.