A type of food poisoning that is caused by consuming food which caused by eating foods infected by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes is called listeria or listeriosis. Approximately 2000 people every year are infected with listeria in USA. This disease is quite serious in pregnant women and can result in premature delivery, miscarriage, or even stillbirth. People generally infected with listeria are pregnant women, adults with compromised immune system, old age people. There have been some cases of babies being born with this disease as their mother got infected during pregnancy.

Causes of Listeria or Listeriosis in Pregnant Women

Causes Of Listeria or Listeriosis

The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes is generally found in soil and water. The vegetables that are eaten can become adulterated from the soil or the manure that is used in the form of fertilizer. Some animals may be infected with the bacteria which in turn can infect their meat and their dairy products. Processed foods can also get contaminated after processing.

Signs And Symptoms Of Listeria or Listeriosis

Listeria causes fever, muscle pains, diarrhea and in some cases nausea. If there is a spread of the infection and the nervous system gets involved then a person may suffer from headaches, confusion, convulsions etc.

Diagnosis for Listeria or Listeriosis

To diagnose listeria, a physician conducts a detailed history and physical evaluation. The person will have to give details of the foods or food products that he has consumed. Questions will be asked about the symptoms experienced. A blood draw will be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Listeria or Listeriosis

A healthy individual does not need treatment for listeria, as it usually gets cured on its own in a few weeks. In case of females who are not pregnant they also do not need treatment. In the case of pregnant females, antibiotics are given to prevent spread of the infection to the baby. Infants suffering from listeria also get the same antibiotics as adults.

Prevention Of Listeria or Listeriosis

Listeria can be prevented by having good and safe food habits. Some of them are listed below.

  • Meat, poultry products, fish etc. should be kept separately from other food items and should be stored properly.
  • Food should be cooked safely by washing hands before and after preparing food. Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cooking. If possible, meat, poultry, and seafood should be cut separately using a separate cutter from the vegetables.
  • Foods should be stored properly.

In Case Of Pregnant Women The Following Precautions Should Be Followed:

  • Hot dogs, meats, etc. should be avoided unless they are served steaming hot.
  • Cheese should be avoided.
  • Refrigerated seafood should be avoided. Canned seafood can be eaten.
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products needs to be avoided.
  • Salads made such as ham, chicken, egg, or seafood salads should be avoided.

Prognosis for Listeria or Listeriosis

In a healthy individual, the disease goes away on its own but in pregnant females and infants, antibiotics are used.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: July 28, 2014

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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