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Listeriosis : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Jun 9, 2023

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Causes of Listeriosis

Symptoms of Listeriosis

Risk Factors for Listeriosis

Diagnosis of Listeriosis

Treatment of Listeriosis



Complications of Listeriosis

Prevention of Listeriosis

Listeriosis : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

A foodborne ailment is listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Natural environments frequently include Listeria monocytogenes, particularly in the soil, groundwater, decaying plants, and animal feces (poop). L. monocytogenes and listeria are other names for listeriosis.

Eating contaminated food is how most individuals develop listeriosis. The duration between when you become infected with listeriosis and when you first exhibit symptoms (the incubation period) varies. Although it often takes one to two weeks, it could take as little as a few days or as much as three months.

Read this blog further to get a quick overview of this important topic for Microbiology and ace your NEET PG exam preparation.

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Causes of Listeriosis

Listeria bacteria are present in water, feces from animals, and soil. Foods which  can cause infection in people are:

  • Polluted raw veggies that have come from the soil or contaminated manure that has been used as fertilizer
  • Infected flesh
  • Unpasteurized milk or unpasteurized milk food
  • Several processed goods, including infected deli meats, soft cheeses, and hot dogs,
  • Pregnancy.

Symptoms of Listeriosis

Following a listeria infection, you could encounter:

  • Fever, chills
  • Muscle ache
  • Diarrhea

After consuming contaminated food, symptoms may take a few days to show, but it often takes 30 days or more for an infection to become apparent.

The following are warning signs and symptoms of listeria infection that affects the nervous system:

  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Uncertainty or changes in vigilance 
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions

Neonatal and pregnancy symptoms

Although the mother is more likely to be affected during pregnancy, the signs and symptoms of a listeria infection are usually mild. However, the consequences for the youngster could be severe; the child could die in the womb or develop a potentially fatal infection within a few days of delivery.

The following symptoms can be found in babies having listeria infection:

  • There is very little appetite
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting and Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

Two kinds of listeriosis are recognised in infants:

  • Early onset- Within six days of delivery, listeriosis with early onset occurs. The placenta of the mother and father transmits the infection to the newborn. Meningitis, septicemia (a blood infection), and pneumonia are frequently caused by early-onset illnesses.
  • Late onset- Between 7 and 28 days after delivery, late-onset listeriosis develops. According to medical experts, newborns with this type of listeriosis develop the infection either after delivery or as a result of a hospital encounter. It frequently results in septicemia and meningitis.

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Risk Factors for Listeriosis

Rarely will Listeria cause illness in healthy people. If you do, the ailment usually isn't too severe and fades away by itself.

Those with listeriosis are more likely to develop a severe illness or its consequences than others.

  • Expectant mothers
  • Newborns
  • People over 65 people with a reduced immune system, which can be brought on by immunosuppressant drugs like prednisone or drugs used to treat autoimmune illnesses like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis organ transplants
  • Cancer or cancer therapies like radiation and chemotherapy
  • Diabetes renal illness, especially when it requires dialysis treatment, HIV or AIDS, and liver damage
  • Drinking disorder

Diagnosis of Listeriosis

Your doctor will normally take a blood sample for testing if they have any reason to believe you might have listeriosis. The doctor might also examine your spinal fluid if you exhibit meningitis' typical symptoms, such as headache, stiff neck, disorientation, or lethargy.  The doctor may also take samples from the placenta in cases where pregnant women have a fever and other indications of listeriosis and deliver.

Your doctor will develop an appropriate treatment plan for you if the results show that you have listeria infection, though some patients with minor symptoms might not even require therapy.

Treatment of Listeriosis

The severity of your symptoms and health state  will determine how you are treated for listeriosis.

Treatment may not be required if your symptoms are minor and the rest of your health is good. Like any other foodborne illness, listeriosis can be treated at home. Home remedies for a minor infection include:

  • If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, drink water and other clear liquids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Use paracetamol (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) as over-the-counter pain relievers to treat body pains and fever.
  • Eat foods that are simple to process as you recover. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are a few of these.


Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics if your listeriosis is more severe. These medicines either destroy or retard the growth of bacteria. Ampicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), two popular antibiotics, are used to treat listeriosis.

You'll probably need to stay in the hospital and receive intravenous (IV) medicine if you have invasive listeriosis. The medical staff can keep an eye out for issues while administering antibiotics intravenously to help treat the illness.


If you have listeriosis while pregnant, your doctor will advise you to start taking medication. They'll also keep an eye out for symptoms of distress in your infant. Antibiotics are given to newborn infants with infections as soon as they are born.

Complications of Listeriosis

The following conditions could arise from listeriosis:

  • Sepsis, a life-threatening condition brought on by your body's reaction to an infection, is caused by bacterial meningitis, 
  • An inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord, encephalitis,
  • An inflammation of the brain, endocarditis,
  • Inflammation of the inner lining of heart 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Infection of the bone
  • Septic arthritis.

Prevention of Listeriosis

Simple food safety recommendations should be followed to avoid contracting listeria:

  • Maintain cleanliness. Before handling or preparing food, as well as afterward, thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water. After cooking, wash the utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces used for food preparation with hot, soapy water.
  • Scrub uncooked vegetables. Utilizing a scrub brush or vegetable brush and lots of flowing water, clean raw vegetables.
  • Cook your food to perfection. Make sure your meat, poultry, and egg dishes are cooked to a safe temperature by using a food thermometer.

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