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Listeriosis is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes,[1] although Listeria ivanovii and Listeria grayigrayi have been reported in certain cases.[2]The main route of acquisition of Listeria is through the ingestion of contaminated food products. Listeria has been isolated from raw meat, dairy products, vegetables, fruit and seafood. [1]

Signs and symptoms

The disease primarily affects older adults, individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns; a person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.[3]


Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitous in the environment. The main route of acquisition of Listeria is through the ingestion of contaminated food products.Vegetables, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk and unpasteurised pâté are among several potential dangers, which include many other types of foods.[1]


L. monocytogene can act as a saprophyte or a pathogen, depending on its environment. When this bacterium is present within a host organism, quorum sensing and other signals cause the up-regulation of several virulence genes. Depending on the location of the bacterium within the host organism, different activators up-regulate the virulence genes. SigB, an alternative sigma factor, up-regulates Vir genes in the intestines, whereas PrfA up-regulates gene expression when the bacterium is present in blood.[4][5][6][7]


The diagnosis of Listeriosis, in central nervous system infection cases, can quite often be cultured from the blood or from the CSF (cerebro spinal fluid) of the individual.[8]


The main means of prevention is through the promotion of safe handling, cooking and consumption of food. This includes washing raw vegetables and cooking raw food thoroughly, as well as reheating leftover or ready-to-eat foods like hot dogs until steaming hot.[9]


Bacteremia should be treated for 2 weeks, meningitis for 3 weeks, and brain abscess for at least 6 weeks. Ampicillin generally is considered the antibiotic of choice; gentamicin is added frequently for its synergistic effects. Overall mortality rate is 20 to 30 percent; of all pregnancy-related cases, 22 percent resulted in fetal loss or neonatal death, but mothers usually survive.[10]


Incidence in 2004 to 2005 was 2 (point) 5 to 3 cases per million population a year in the United States, where pregnant women accounted for 30 percent of all cases.[11] Of all nonperinatal infections, 70 percent occur in immunocompromised individuals. Incidence in the U.S. has been falling since 1990, in contrast to Europe where changes in eating habits have led to an increase during the same time.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ryan KJ, Ray CG, eds. (2003). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9.
  2. de Noordhout CM, Devleesschauwer B, Angulo FJ, Verbeke G, Haagsma J, Kirk M, Havelaar A, Speybroeck N (November 2014). "The global burden of listeriosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis". The Lancet. Infectious Diseases. 14 (11): 1073–1082. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70870-9. PMC 4369580. PMID 25241232.
  3. "Learn about the symptoms of Listeria". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 3 May 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  4. Mengaud J, Dramsi S, Gouin E, Vazquez-Boland JA, Milon G, Cossart P (September 1991). "Pleiotropic control of Listeria monocytogenes virulence factors by a gene that is autoregulated". Molecular Microbiology. 5 (9): 2273–83. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.1991.tb02158.x. PMID 1662763. S2CID 22599174.
  5. Leimeister-Wächter M, Haffner C, Domann E, Goebel W, Chakraborty T (November 1990). "Identification of a gene that positively regulates expression of listeriolysin, the major virulence factor of listeria monocytogenes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 87 (21): 8336–40. Bibcode:1990PNAS...87.8336L. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.21.8336. PMC 54950. PMID 2122460.
  6. Garner MR, Njaa BL, Wiedmann M, Boor KJ (February 2006). "Sigma B contributes to Listeria monocytogenes gastrointestinal infection but not to systemic spread in the guinea pig infection model". Infection and Immunity. 74 (2): 876–86. doi:10.1128/IAI.74.2.876-886.2006. PMC 1360341. PMID 16428730.
  7. Mandin P, Fsihi H, Dussurget O, Vergassola M, Milohanic E, Toledo-Arana A, Lasa I, Johansson J, Cossart P (September 2005). "VirR, a response regulator critical for Listeria monocytogenes virulence". Molecular Microbiology. 57 (5): 1367–80. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04776.x. PMID 16102006.
  8. Mahon CR, Lehman DC, Manuselis G (25 March 2014). Textbook of Diagnostic Microbiology. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 357–. ISBN 978-0-323-29262-7. Archived from the original on 31 May 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  9. "Prevention—Listeriosis". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Archived from the original on May 7, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  10. Fitzpatrick J, Barrera J (February 2007). "Health authorities link 12 deaths to contaminated meat". Canwest News Service. Archived from the original on 27 January 2016.
  11. "Listeria". Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2021-06-22.
  12. European Food Safety Authority, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (December 2016). "EU summary report on zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks 2015". EFSA Journal. 14 (12): 4634. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2016.4634.