What Is Listeria Monocytogenes?

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacteria that causes the infection known as listeriosis.  It is a facultative anaerobic bacterium, which means it can survive without oxygen. It has the ability to both grow and reproduce in human cells very well. This has made it one of the most virulent food-borne pathogens known today. Around 20%-30% of food-borne listeriosis infections are considered to become fatal in high-risk individuals. Every year, around 1,600 people become ill, and 260 people die due to being infected with Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria is third when it comes to the number of deaths bacterial pathogens result in annually. More people die from this than from Salmonella.

History of Listeria Monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes was first discovered by E.G.D. Murray in 1924, when six young rabbits were found to suddenly die. The name was changed to be in the Listeria genus in 1940. Descriptions of human infections began in the 1920s, although it was not pinpointed as a primary cause of neonatal infections, sepsis, and meningitis until 1952. It was not until 1981 that Listeria monocytogenes was found to cause food-borne illnesses.

There was a major outbreak of listeriosis in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 41 people, resulting in 18 deaths, particularly pregnant and newborns. Contaminated coleslaw was found to be the culprit.

Symptoms of Diseases Caused By Listeria Monocytogenes

If you are infected with Listeria monocytogenes, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Aching muscles
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may come a few days after eating contaminated food. It may even take a month before symptoms are noticed.

If the bacterial infection ends up in the nervous system, the following symptoms may be experienced:

  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Mental confusion
  • Being less alert
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions

Symptoms in pregnant women and newborns may include the following:

  • Lack of interest in feeding (newborn)
  • Death (newborn)
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing (newborn)

How You Can Treat Listeria Monocytogenes

Mild symptoms will usually not require any treatment. However, more severe symptoms can be treated effectively by taking antibiotics.


Listeria monocytogenes is naturally found in dirt, water, and animal faces. The way to best prevent becoming infected by it is to avoid eating the following:

  • Uncleaned raw vegetables that have been contaminated from manure used as fertilizer
  • Unwashed contaminated meat
  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Processed foods like soft cheese, hot dogs, and deli meats that have been contaminated



The cure for Listeria monocytogenes involves taking antibiotics. Since it is a pathogenic bacteria, the use of antibiotics can help very effectively.

How Alliance Enviro-Tech Can Help

Although a bacterial infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes is widespread, it can be effectively neutralized.

Alliance Enviro-Tech can disinfect both residential and commercial spaces thoroughly. Our Path-Guard® system and Path-Away Anti-Pathogenic Aerosol Solution® can kill Listeria monocytogenes, as well as other bacteria and viruses, in under five minutes, giving you peace of mind to know your place is a healthier space. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.