HomeAnswersGeneral MedicinepregnancyWill eating sunflower seeds likely to cause listeriosis during pregnancy?

I am 26 weeks pregnant and I ate sunflower seeds which is suspected for listeria. What to do?


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Published At November 26, 2019
Reviewed AtDecember 15, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I am 26 weeks pregnant, and recently I ate sunflower seeds that have since been recalled for listeria. I became ill the next day with vomiting, weakness, fatigue, muscle aches, chills. It was not until 10 days, later that I heard about the recall and made a connection. My gynecologist is concerned but has no experience with listeria so she is not confident about how to proceed. She had a sonogram to verify the baby is fine at this point. She also ordered a blood culture. However, I have read that blood culture is not necessarily accurate. While my symptoms are gone, I fear that it can stay in my system for 70 days and could affect the baby at any point during that time without me knowing. My doctor is under the impression that any preventive treatment would require an inpatient stay with IVS and may have risk for the baby. Therefore, she does not want to proceed unless the blood culture is positive. Is there anything further I can do as a precaution?


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Well contracting symptoms, immediately the next day following contaminated food is extremely rare. The incubation period to get symptoms of illness following the ingestion of food is 48 hours to 70 hours. Listeriosis is a self-limiting illness unless the patient is at high risk as in immunocompromised persons as it is an opportunistic infection. Pregnancy particularly third trimester is definitely a risk, but other more common causes like viral illness and other causes are to be ruled out. As in your case, your illness vanished without any intervention, it would have been a viral illness or a self-limiting illness.

The only recommended investigation to rule out listeriosis is culture with enrichment media. Other serological tests are there but are unreliable. The good thing here is that you and your baby are completely fine. Your concern is apt but you need to await for the result as treating without confirmation a pregnant lady who is not symptomatic is of no use. Do not eat frozen foods, hot dogs and all these stuffs. Stay positive and do let me know the results.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Geetha Priyadarsini Kamminana
Dr. Geetha Priyadarsini Kamminana

Internal Medicine

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