Article written by Jatinder Paul

Listeriosis, or Listeria, is a foodborne infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes, and is named after Joseph Lister, the surgeon and pioneer of antiseptic surgery.  It can be symptomless, but more usually flu-like symptoms occur in the acute period of infection.


The most common foods to cause Listeria outbreaks are deli meats and unpasteurised dairy products. However, many other foods have also been found to spark outbreaks, including caramel apples, cantaloupe, and cabbages fertilized by sheep manure.

If listeriosis reaches the nervous system, it can be debilitating, or even life threatening for up to around 30% of victims.

For the most vulnerable, such as pregnant people, new-borns, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems, Listeria can have the most serious consequences.

Nervous System

For many people, a Listeria infection will pass unnoticed. However, in some individuals, the infection can spread the nervous system, where symptoms can include:

Brain Injury

For others, listeriosis can lead to septicaemia or meningitis. I have conducted litigation for victims of listeriosis who have suffered severe brain injury because if the infection spreads to the brain, the outcomes can include:

  • Cranial nerve palsies: paralysis and tremors.
  • Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain.
  • Meningitis: inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
  • Meningoencephalitis: a combination of meningitis and encephalitis.
  • Cerebral abscesses: localised pus build up within the brain.

In a personal injury claim that I have recently successfully concluded, a Spanish gentleman, who was visiting London, contracted Listeriosis after consuming unpasteurised soft cheese at an Italian restaurant which led to Meningitis and life changing consequences including a severe brain injury.

My client, was previously a high flying architect, now requires round-the-clock and lifetime care, and his life will never be the same again, although the care package secured for him will allow him to have some degree of independence. In other cases I have handled, the injuries have been much less severe, but the potential outcome for all of these victims should never be been downplayed.

If you have experienced a personal injury with resulting life-long symptoms too and need a legal or financial consultation for free, don’t hesitate to call 0333 0100 357 and reference ‘Brain & Spine Foundation’ to connect with an Irwin Mitchell solicitor today.