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food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated
with the Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) bacterium. In pregnant women, the infection can result in miscarriage, premature
delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.
Listeriosis affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with
impaired immune systems. Healthy adults and children
sometimes are infected with L. monocytogenes, but
they rarely become seriously ill. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their
mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy.
L. monocytogenes is found in soil and water.
The symptoms of listeriosis
include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection
spreads to the
nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck,
confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. But infected pregnant
women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness.
diagnosed based on a medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have
recently eaten, and your work and home environments. A blood test or spinal
fluid test may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
An otherwise healthy person who
is not pregnant typically does not need treatment. Symptoms will usually go
away within a few weeks.
If you are pregnant and get
listeriosis, antibiotics can often prevent infection of the fetus or newborn.
Babies who have listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a
combination of antibiotics is often used until your doctor is
certain the cause is listeriosis.
You can prevent
listeriosis by practicing safe food handling (adapted from the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention).
If you are pregnant:
October 18, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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