Listeriosis is a bacterial infection, that can result in severe complications like meningitis, sepsis, and even death. Read the article to know more.
It is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogens which is usually seen in people after consumption of contaminated food. Commonly, it is known as food poisoning and can happen to anyone. Mostly it is self-limiting.
Listeria is a bacteria that is capable of living in soil, water, dust, animal excreta, and any other substance. It can usually grow in cold temperatures, and it does not cause any change in the appearance, smell, or taste of contaminated food.
As mentioned earlier, it is caused by bacteria Listeria monocytogens. Most people get this infection from eating non-processed or incompletely processed food or from dairy products that are made using milk that is not pasteurized.
Transmission from human to human occurs from mother to fetus or newborn through the placenta or during delivery. This infection usually occurs during the third trimester in pregnant Women.
The most common and typical signs include:
1. Diarrhea or loose motions.
3. Pain in the muscles.
5. During pregnancy, the symptoms can be mild flu-like but it carries a risk of miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth or there are also chances of getting some life-threatening infections of the neonates after birth like pneumonia, sepsis, etc.
These symptoms can appear after a few days of eating the contaminated food or they can take a few months to show the symptoms.
This condition becomes serious if it spreads to the nervous system which is fatal for almost 20 % of people suffering from it. It usually affects the very young, very elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems. The signs of this condition include:
A blood test is usually performed for the diagnosis and is the most effective way too. Sometimes, urine or spinal fluid samples may be used too. The other sites that can be used are joint, amniotic fluid, placenta, fetal tissue, pericardial fluid, and pleural.
Gram Staining of Listeria:
The gram staining of this microorganism from the specimen obtained shows small, non-spore-forming short rods (bacillus) that are gram-positive that stain blue. It is very helpful in diagnosing this microorganism.
The treatment involves antibiotics via intravenous along with supportive care. The antibiotics used are Ampicillin. Some may be allergic to this drug, and hence, it is important to consult your physician before taking it. If you are allergic to it, your doctor will prescribe an alternative medicine.
The following measures can be taken to prevent this infection:
Most of the individuals affected with this infection are symptomless and have the best prognosis. Those at high risk have varied prognoses depending on various factors like the health and immune status of the individual, initiation of antibiotics and the route, etc. Most of them have a good prognosis. But, in some cases, it can turn fatal too. Hence, it is advisable to consult your physician as soon as possible.
Listeriosis is a very common condition that is mostly self-limiting and asymptomatic, but there are chances for it to turn fatal also. Hence, it is advisable to have detailed knowledge about it so that you can seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially in high-risk individuals. You can always contact physicians anywhere, anytime, with the help of online medical platforms and thus, get your query solved instantly.
The incubation period that is the time taken for bacteria to cause symptoms is 11 to 70 days. This infection goes away on its own if the disease is mild. Severe cases need treatment with antibiotics.
You can get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria. It can also get transmitted to newborns if mothers get infected during pregnancy. Immunocompromised and pregnant people are at risk of developing this infection.
During the early stages, listeria infection can cause flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle aches. In the later stages, when the infection spreads to the brain, you might experience neck stiffness, confusion, and loss of balance. A blood test can be done to detect the bacteria.
On consuming food infected with Listeria, the bacteria reaches the liver through your intestines. If your immune system is strong, bacteria are destroyed, and the infection goes away on its own. But in pregnant and people with a weakened immune system, the infection can spread to the blood and brain.
Listeria infection can be dangerous for pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals. If it infects pregnant women, it can result in miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. In people with a weak immune system, it can cause serious brain infection.
Listeria is present in the soil, water, and manure. When we consume fruits, vegetables, and other food items infected with Listeria, the bacteria enter the body and causes infection.
In healthy individuals with a normal immune system, this infection can go away on its own.
You can treat Listeria at home by staying hydrated, taking painkillers, avoid alcohol and fatty, spicy food.
Most people recover from this infection on there own. In rare cases, it can cause brain abscess, which is a severe condition that requires treatment with antibiotics for around six weeks.
Last reviewed at:
18 Nov 2022 - 3 min read
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