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Listeriosis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Listeriosis Definition

Listeriosis is a group of bacteria capable of causing miscarriage, still birth and premature birth. Listeriosis can also be caused serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and persons with a weakened immune system. Listeria contamination has been responsible for numerous recalls of food.

The infected fetus is born prematurely, almost always with lethallisteriosis. This infection produces milder illness in pregnant women and varying degrees of illness in older and immuno­suppressed patients; their prognoses depend on the severity of underlying illness.

Listeriosis Causes

Listeriosis is caused by infection with the germ Listeria monocytogenes, which is found in the soil and in most animals. The primary method of person-to-person transmission is neonatal infection in utero or during passage through an infected birth canal. Other modes of transmission may include inhaling contaminated dust; drinking contaminated, unpasteurized milk, and coming in contact with infected animals. Healthy adults and children may become ill from listeria, but they are less likely to develop serious infections.

Listeriosis ivanovii is a pathogen of ruminants, and can infect mice in the laboratory, although it is only rarely the cause of human disease. Foods most likely to be contaminated with listeria include deli foods such as cold meats, pate, soft cheese, and unpasteurised milk, uncooked meats, hot dogs and ready-to-eat seafood such as mussels.

Listeriosis Symptoms

The most common symptoms is illness, it is normally strikes within two to eight weeks after eating contaminated food, but it can take up to 10 weeks to become ill. Listeria can be diagnosed with a blood test or spinal fluid test.

Anyone who feels ill and suspects food poisoning with listeria in the past two months should contact their doctor, especially those with existing health problems.

The symptoms of the listeriosis may be included:

  • Chills
  • Coma
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stiff neck
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of balance

Listeriosis Treatments

An otherwise healthy person who is not pregnant generally does not need treatment. Symptoms will usually go away within a few weeks.

The treatment of choice is ampicillin or penicillin l.V. for 3 to 6 weeks, possibly with gentamicin to increase its effectiveness. Alternate treatments include erythromycin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, or co-trimoxazole.

If the infection has already reached your baby, doctors may decide that your baby has to be delivered early. This is so your baby can also be treated with antibiotics to reduce the severity of any damage.

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