About listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)

What is listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

Listeriosis is an infection caused by a gram-positive motile bacterium named Listeria monocytogenes. The infection produces fever, muscle aches, and, in many people, diarrhea. Severe infections can cause headaches, meningitis, convulsions, and death. Most healthy people exposed to the bacteria have minor or no symptoms, but a few people, especially the elderly, pregnant females and their fetus, newborns, and anyone with a compromised immune system are especially susceptible to these organisms. Listeria bacteria are widespread throughout the world and are often associated with farm animals that may show no signs of infection. Research shows that many animals are uninfected carriers, and they suggest that some humans carry these organisms as part of their bowel flora. Except for pregnant females and their fetus or newborn, there is no direct transfer of Listeria from human to human.

The organisms (Listeria monocytogenes) that cause listeriosis have probably been infecting humans for centuries. Listeria was first isolated from an infected WWI soldier in 1918 and had many different names until 1940, when the genus and species names were firmly established. However, the bacteria were first recognized as a food-borne (food poisoning) pathogen in 1979. The bacteria can penetrate human cells and can multiply inside them. People with altered or impaired immune systems have cells that are less able to control the spread of these organisms into the blood or into other cells. In 2010, a known species, Listeria ivanovii, thought only to infect cattle, was found to infect humans.

Listeriosis is mainly a food-borne disease; except in the situation in which a pregnant woman can transfer the bacteria to the fetus or newborn, the disease is not contagious from person to person.

Foods that have been associated with Listeria outbreaks are many (for example, soft cheeses, yogurt, apples, smoked seafood, deli meats, fruits, and vegetables). There have been many outbreaks of the disease over the world; an event occurred in Texas in October 2010, tentatively related to locally processed celery; 10 people were diagnosed with listeriosis and five died. Most people infected had underlying medical problems or conditions. In 2011, approximately 146 people got infected from Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes and about 32 people died. In February 2012, over 1 million eggs were recalled after several processed in a processing plant were found to be contaminated with Listeria. The eggs were sold under the brand names of Columbia Valley Farms, GFS, Glenview Farms, Papetti's, Silverbrook, and Wholesome Farms. The egg brands were sold in 34 states. The year 2015 has already had at least three outbreaks of listeriosis. Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield, Calif., produced apples that eventually were determined to be contaminated with the bacteria. The organisms were first noticed in apples that were caramel coated. Hummus produced by the Sabra Dipping Company was recalled (30,000 cases of hummus) because the food was found to be contaminated with Listeria. Also in 2015, the very popular brand of ice cream, Blue Bell, caused a serious outbreak of listeriosis. To date, three deaths have occurred and the company has shut down at least one of its ice-cream-producing plants in Oklahoma. The recall is ongoing and items produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant that have a code date ending in O, P, Q, R, S, or T are being withdrawn from shelves in a large number of U.S. states. Individuals who have purchased Blue Bell ice cream produced in the Broken Arrow plant with any of these codes should discard the items.

What are the symptoms for listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

Stiff neck symptom was found in the listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection) condition

Symptoms might begin a few days after you've eaten contaminated food, but it can take 30 days or more before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.

If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms can include:

Symptoms during pregnancy and in newborns

During pregnancy, a listeria infection is likely to cause only mild signs and symptoms in the mother. The consequences for the baby, however, can be devastating — the baby can die in the womb or have a life-threatening infection within a few days of being born.

Signs and symptoms of a listeria infection in a newborn can be subtle, but can include:

What are the causes for listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

Listeria bacteria can be found in soil, water and animal feces. People can get infected by eating the following:

  • Raw vegetables that have been contaminated from the soil or from contaminated manure used as fertilizer
  • Contaminated meat
  • Unpasteurized milk or foods made with unpasteurized milk
  • Certain processed foods — such as soft cheeses, hot dogs and deli meats that have been contaminated after processing

Unborn babies can contract a listeria infection from the mother.

What are the treatments for listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

The majority of people with Listeria infections spontaneously clear the infection in about seven days. However, those patients at increased risk, especially pregnant women, usually require immediate IV antibiotic treatment to prevent, halt, or slow the development of more severe disease. For example, early effective antibiotic treatment of pregnant females may be lifesaving for the fetus.

In general, the length of antibiotic treatment increases with the severity of the infection. Meningitis is treated for three weeks while brain abscesses are treated for six weeks. The initial choice of antibiotics is usually IV ampicillin. Bactrim (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) also has been used successfully. However, each patient's treatment should be individualized for optimal results; many clinicians recommend an infectious-disease consultant be involved, and if the patient is pregnant, her obstetrician and a pediatric specialist should help manage the treatment plan.

What are the risk factors for listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

Pregnant women and people who have weak immune systems are at highest risk of contracting a listeria infection.

Pregnant women and their babies

Pregnant women are much more susceptible to listeria infections than are other healthy adults. Although a listeria infection might cause only a mild illness in pregnant women, consequences for their babies can include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • A potentially fatal infection after birth
People who have weak immune systems

This category includes people who:

  • Are older than 65
  • Have AIDS
  • Are receiving chemotherapy
  • Have diabetes or kidney disease
  • Take high-dose prednisone or certain rheumatoid arthritis drugs
  • Take medications to block rejection of a transplanted organ

Is there a cure/medications for listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)?

Foodborne bacteria mostly found in non-vegetarian and dairy foods give rise to Listeriosis (Listeria Monocytogenes Infection). The bacteria is also found in soil and could be consumed through contaminated fruits and vegetables.

In severe cases, It is necessary to reach out to doctors and get the disease diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Blood Tests
  • Urine Samples
  • Spinal Fluid Sample


The condition of a patient with this infection is generally mild and does not require treatment. Few preventions can help recover from mild symptoms of Listeriosis.

  • Cook food thoroughly before having it.
  • Seafood needed to be smoked
  • Avoid cheese: soft, Mexican-style
  • Cook the sprouts after their sprouting and boiling are done effectively
  • Say to Meat spreads or canned meats
  • Keep everything and every food clean and consume fresh
  • Scrub raw vegetables or brush them under clean running water

If the ailment goes severe in the case of a pregnant woman, newborn or old age person, it requires medical attention where doctors would prescribe antibiotics, fluid intake and complete antibiotic treatment.

Moreover, the disease is curable; with proper care and prevention at the beginning, it can be stopped from getting severe.

Confusion,Changes in Alertness,Convulsions,Loss of Balance,Diarrhoea,Chills
Ampicillin,Gentamicin,Antibiotics,Amoxicillin,L. Monocytogenes,Penicillin
Fever,Nausea,Muscle Ache,Stiff Neck,Headache

Video related to listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes infection)