Listeria Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Management


Listeria disease is an infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes, and it is highly contagious but only among people with compromised immune systems. Therefore, among the people who are prone to contracting this disease are pregnant women, the elderly (people over sixty-five years old), newborns, and people who have immunodeficiency infections. Examples of conditions that cause this disease include diabetes, liver cirrhosis, surgical spleen removal, anti-rheumatoid medication, and HIV/AIDS. Listeria disease is a food-borne sickness, meaning that the disease-causing organism is ingested through the mouth. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium prevalent in soil, feces, and water. People become infected when they consume foods that have this particular bacterium. The foods that are most prone to cause listeria disease include, but are not limited to, unpasteurized dairy products, cantaloupe, cabbages, and deli meats.

People infected with listeria disease do not show immediate symptoms after ingesting food with Listeria. The incubation period for this illness ranges from eleven to seventy days. The prevalent symptoms of this illness include muscular pain, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. When this illness affects the nervous system, other symptoms show up. These symptoms include; headache, stiff neck, imbalance, convulsions, and confusion. Listeria disease causes intricacies among women, and pregnant women are the most prone to contracting this illness.

Unfortunately, listeria disease may fail to manifest any external signs among pregnant women, which may severely affect the unborn child. This illness may cause critical complications in extreme cases, such as premature birth and even miscarriages among its victims. The treatment for minor infections is not necessary, but antibiotics are the optimal remedy for serious cases. Ampicillin can be used by itself or alongside another antibiotic, such as gentamicin. Although Listeria only prices on people with low immunity, it is associated with a high mortality rate for the victims it affects.

Determinants of Health

The first determinant of health is the personal hygiene practices that one chooses. As aforementioned, listeria disease is spread through food contamination by the listeria pathogen. Personal hygiene includes washing fruits and vegetables before preparing meals and washing hands regularly with soap and running water. Therefore, it is more difficult for a person who maintains a high level of hygiene to consume Listeria monocytogenes than one who does not care much about their hygiene practices.

Nutrition is the second health determinant determining a person’s chances of contracting Listeria disease. Listeria disease infects people with a low immune system, and nutrition is a crucial factor that helps to determine a person’s immunity. Thus, it is considerably difficult for a person who eats healthy foods to be infected with listeria disease. The aspect of nutrition is especially applicable to the elderly over 65 years (Ryser, 2021). The elderly individuals that have consistently been consuming healthy foods over the years are more capable of fighting off the listeria pathogens than their age mates who did not care about their nutrition habits.

The type of lifestyle that one leads directly affects the state of their immunity. People that lead conscious and moderated lifestyles tend to develop better immunity than those who lead decadent lifestyles. Poor lifestyles attract health complications like obesity, hypertension, and even diabetes. These illnesses negatively affect an individual’s immunity, increasing the chances of contracting listeria disease.

Epidemiological Triad

The epidemiological triad explains how pathogens are spread and develop into diseases within their hosts. The epidemiological triad comprises host factors, agent factors, and environmental factors. The host is the individual that ingests pathogens and either develops an illness or fights off the disease-causing organisms in the body. Host factors refer to the state of well-being of the individual, and it refers to numerous aspects, such as nutrition, lifestyle, genetics, and immunity status (Jordan & McAuliffe, 2018). The agent in context is Listeria monocytogenes, and its presence is determined by the nature of its environmental surroundings (Radoshevich & Cossart, 2018). The listeria pathogen is prevalent in environmental settings with little or no regard for hygiene. Therefore, environmental factors determine whether disease-causing organisms will be able to thrive, infiltrate the host, and cause illnesses.

Role of the Nursing Practitioner

Nursing practitioners deliver patients’ basic, specialty, and acute health care services. These professionals play three salient roles in helping deliver superior quality health care to patients. Firstly, nursing practitioners assess patients to get as much information as possible to present the optimal healthcare solution (Maxwell, 2020). Secondly, nursing practitioners can order diagnostics tests to be conducted and interpret the results. Thirdly, nursing practitioners make requisite diagnoses and establish a treatment plan.

Nursing practitioners play a critical role in the management of infectious diseases. Nursing practitioners manage infectious illnesses by assessing the rate of the infection of the disease. This assessment is followed by other interventions, including primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions. The extremity of a particular disease determines the type of required intervention. Nursing practitioners facilitate the collection of requisite data concerning the phenomenon under study and follow-up. Nursing practitioners take all necessary measures before diagnosing medical conditions.


Jordan, K., & McAuliffe, O. (2018). Listeria monocytogenes in foods. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 86, 181-213. Web.

Radoshevich, L., & Cossart, P. (2018). Listeria monocytogenes: Towards a complete picture of its physiology and pathogenesis. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 16(1), 32-46. Web.

Ryser, E. T. (2021). Listeria. In D. Cliver & H. Riemann (Eds.), Foodborne infections and intoxications (pp. 201-220). Academic Press.

Torrens, C., Campbell, P., Hoskins, G., Strachan, H., Wells, M., Cunningham, M., Bottone, H., Polson, R., & Maxwell, M. (2020). Barriers and facilitators to implementing the advanced nurse practitioner role in primary care settings: A scoping review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 104, 103443. Web.

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NursingBird. "Listeria Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Management." December 19, 2022.