Treating listeriosis 

Most listeria infections don't need treatment, as the symptoms usually pass within three days.

Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can offer some relief for muscle pain and fever, if you need it.

Diarrhoea and vomiting advice

If you have diarrhoea, it's important to drink plenty of fluids to replace those that have been lost. There are also a number of medications available, but these are rarely necessary. Read more about the treatment of diarrhoea.

If you've been vomiting or feeling sick, it should be fine to avoid eating for a short while. However, make sure you continue drinking fluids, and eat as soon as you can. Eat small, light meals and avoid fatty or spicy foods.

Contact your GP if your symptoms don't improve within a few days.

Severe listeriosis

If listeriosis spreads into the blood (septicaemia) or the central nervous system, you'll be admitted to hospital to receive injections of antibiotics (intravenous antibiotics) while your health is carefully monitored.

The length of time you'll need to spend in hospital depends on whether the infection has spread from your blood or nervous system to other organs, such as your brain.

Most people with severe listeriosis require at least two weeks of treatment with intravenous antibiotics. However, in the most serious cases, at least six weeks of treatment may be needed.

Listeriosis in infants

Treatment for listeriosis in infants is the same as for adults, although it's usually recommended that infants are kept in an intensive care unit (ICU) as a precaution.

Listeriosis in pregnancy

If you develop listeriosis during pregnancy, you'll be given antibiotics to help prevent the infection spreading to your baby. You may also be given additional ultrasound scans to assess the health of your baby.

Page last reviewed: 09/01/2015

Next review due: 09/01/2017