- Salmonella Outbreak - Slideshow
- Take the Quiz: Summer Food Safety
- Pictures of Food Poisoning - Slideshow
- Patient Comments: Listeriosis - Causes
- Patient Comments: Listeriosis - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Listeriosis - Recalled Food
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Listeriosis (Listeria monocytogenes infection) facts
- What is listeriosis? What causes listeriosis?
- What are listeriosis symptoms and signs?
- What are the risk factors for listeriosis?
- How is listeriosis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for listeriosis?
- How does a person get listeriosis?
- Can listeriosis be prevented?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) for Listeria infections?
- If a person has eaten recalled food potentially contaminated with Listeria, what should he or she do?
- What is the government doing about listeriosis?
Quick GuideBacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments
What is the treatment for listeriosis?
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.
How does a person get listeriosis?
The majority of people who get listeriosis have consumed Listeria-contaminated foods. Because the bacteria are often found in both soil and water, cultivated foods like vegetables can easily become contaminated, especially from fertilizer or animal waste. Listeria has been found in many types of raw food (even seafood) but especially in meats, vegetables, and cheeses. It has even been found in processed foods because of contamination during or after processing. After the contaminated food or fluid has been ingested, it may take up to three weeks for the organisms to cause symptoms.
The fetus may become infected after the mother ingests the organisms; the bacteria apparently reach the fetus via the bloodstream. Newborn infants can acquire the bacteria during a cesarean procedure or be exposed to them while traversing the vagina.