The symptoms of listeria include muscle pain, high body temperature, diarrhea and nausea, according to Mayo Clinic. Listeria patients who have had the infection spread to their nervous system may also experience neck stiffness, balance loss and headache.
Those affected should seek immediate medical attention when the symptoms of listeria appear for early diagnosis and treatment, as Mayo Clinic advises. This helps them avoid possible complications such as septicemia, miscarriage, stillbirth and meningitis, which is a condition in which the membranes and fluid that surround the brain swells. Typically, doctors diagnose the condition effectively through blood tests. Other diagnostic tests include a urine test and a spinal fluid test.
Listeria is a bacterial infection that typically spreads through contaminated food, such as unpasteurized milk, infected animal meat and infected processed foods such as hot dogs and deli meat, as Mayo Clinic reports. It often affects pregnant women, but those who have weak immune systems as a result of old age, diabetes, kidney disease or AIDs are also prone to listeria. A pregnant mother may also pass the infection on to the baby in her womb through the placenta.
Although mild listeria infection may not require treatment, it is necessary in serious cases, according to Mayo Clinic. Medical providers use antibiotics to treat the condition, but individuals can prevent it by maintaining proper hygiene and preparing food properly.