Last updated: July 3, 2023

Summarytoggle arrow icon

Listeriosis is an infectious disease caused by the gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The bacteria are usually transmitted to humans through ingestion of contaminated food (especially raw milk products). In immunocompetent individuals, the disease is mostly asymptomatic, although mild flu-like symptoms or febrile gastroenteritis may occur. Invasive disease due to bacteria spreading beyond the gastrointestinal tract results in most symptoms and generally develops in high-risk groups, e.g., older adults, pregnant individuals, and those who are immunocompromised. The clinical manifestation is usually mild in pregnant patients, but consequences for the fetus can be very severe (see congenital listeriosis). In immunocompromised and older adults, invasive disease can lead to sepsis and meningitis. Suspected listeriosis can be differentiated from other causes of infection through blood cultures. Antibiotic therapy is indicated for high-risk groups; ampicillin or penicillin G are the drugs of choice.

Etiologytoggle arrow icon

Pathophysiologytoggle arrow icon

Clinical featurestoggle arrow icon

Most infections are asymptomatic or mild, especially in immunocompetent individuals. [6]

Diagnosticstoggle arrow icon

Testing is generally not needed in immunocompetent individuals, as the infection is self-limiting and symptoms will have resolved by the time listeriosis is diagnosed.

Treatmenttoggle arrow icon

Preventiontoggle arrow icon

  • High-risk individuals should avoid food products made from unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses (e.g., brie, feta, and camembert).
  • Cook meat thoroughly prior to consumption.
  • Listeriosis is a notifiable disease in the United States.

Referencestoggle arrow icon

  1. Pizarro-Cerda J, Kuhbacher A, Cossart P. Entry of Listeria monocytogenes in Mammalian Epithelial Cells: An Updated View. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2012; 2 (11): p.a010009-a010009.doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a010009 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  2. Dussurget O, Bierne H, Cossart P. The bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and the interferon family: type I, type II and type III interferons. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. 2014; 4.doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00050 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  3. Listeria . . Accessed: October 23, 2016.
  4. Vázquez-Boland JA, Krypotou E, Scortti M. Listeria Placental Infection. mBio. 2017; 8 (3).doi: 10.1128/mbio.00949-17 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  5. What is the incubation period for listeriosis?. Updated: January 10, 2013. Accessed: October 23, 2016.
  6. Lorber B.. Listeriosis. . 1997; 24: p.1-9.
  7. Castellazzi ML, Marchisio P, Bosis S. Listeria monocytogenes meningitis in immunocompetent and healthy children: a case report and a review of the literature. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2018; 44 (1).doi: 10.1186/s13052-018-0595-5 . | Open in Read by QxMD

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