Listeriosis: everything you need to know if you are pregnant

Listeria monocytogenes is the scientific name for this dangerous bacterium. Listeria is a bacteria with high risk when it causes food infections due to the following characteristics:

—It is usually found on different surfaces and especially in food

—It grows at very varied temperatures ranging from 1 to 45 degrees

—Moves easily below 37 degrees

—High salt content environments benefit you.

Where is the bacteria found?

As you can see, its characteristics help us understand why it has grown easily in a food such as shredded meat. Its main habitat is soil and decomposing plant matter. Still, listeria has been detected in many other places such as:


—In decomposing plant matter

-Sewage water

-Food for animals

—Fresh and frozen chicken

—Fresh and processed foods such as cheese, unprocessed milk…

—Waste from slaughterhouses, as well as the digestive tract of asymptomatic humans and animals.

Due to its wide distribution, this microorganism has many opportunities to contaminate food at different stages of food production, this being the most frequent route by which the infection is acquired.

Foods involved in listeriosis

The number of foods involved in listeria infection can be very large. These are the most common:

—Fresh, tender or semi-cured cheeses as well as those cured with roquefort-type molds …

—Processed meat products; pate salami…

—Salty mushrooms

—Fish eggs, smoked mussels, undercooked fish, pickled olives, raw vegetables …

What is listeria and how is it spread?

Listeria infection has a 20% to 30% risk of death, recalls this neuropaediatrician. «It is important to prevent the spread of listeria. Given that the main route of infection is the intake of contaminated food, it is essential to avoid its consumption to prevent listeria infection, “says Fernández.

What does listeria do? What organs does it affect?

Listeria Monocytogenes is acquired digestively through the cells of the intestinal epithelium . From within those cells it begins to multiply and invade other territories. In this way, it passes from cell to cell and hides so as not to attract the attention of the immune system. You can reach any organ in the body with this system

Listerioris in pregnant women

Listeria infection in pregnant women is a high-risk disease. Listeriosis affects the fetus with great ease and can cause serious complications such as abortions or neurological sequelae.

Listeria can cause meningitis or meningoencephalitis in at-risk individuals such as newborns, the elderly, or people with low defenses (immunosuppressed) such as those undergoing chemotherapy, for example.

Listerioris in children. Symptoms of suspicion

Most listeria infections in children cause minor symptoms that cannot be distinguished from gastroenteritis. The most common are the following.




-Abdominal pain


In certain occasions, in children with problems in the defenses, this can be complicated much more seriously and cause neurological symptoms with involvement of the meninges and the brain.

How is listeria infection diagnosed?

As indicated by this neuropaediatrician, to reach the diagnosis of listeriosis it is important to have a high degree of clinical suspicion and to proactively search for the epidemiological history of consuming suspicious foods.

Subsequently, blood or other fluid samples from the person allegedly affected must be analyzed to check for the presence of the bacteria. Sometimes it is necessary to analyze the spinal fluid or the amniotic fluid of pregnant women

Prevent listeria. This is what you should do

Does anyone find it a tasteful dish to have a digestive infection? Thus, whether you are pregnant or not, Fernández recommends that you follow these recommendations. Much more if you have a situation of low defenses or your child is especially fragile in this regard:

—Follow the strictest guidelines for pre-meal hand washing.

– Wash all foods that require it well , especially fruits, vegetables, and greens. Avoid consuming it outside the home if you are pregnant.

—Cook food at the proper temperature. Do not eat raw untreated food if you are expecting a child.

—Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or drinking cheese made from raw milk. Check it on the labels and don’t take it away from home

Listeria Treatment

The treatment of listeria infection depends on the level of risk and severity of each case. Treating a case of mild infection in a healthy person is not the same as treating a case of a pregnant woman.

The treatment of listeria infections in pregnant women is based on antibiotics. An intravenous treatment period of about 10 days should be followed by an oral treatment period of about three weeks.

Early treatment of listeriosis in pregnancy greatly improves the prognosis for preventing abortion compared to up to 50% fetal mortality without treatment.

Key points

—Listeria is a frequent and normally not very dangerous bacteria

—It is spread through contaminated food

—The symptoms are usually mild gastroentritis

—It can be serious in people with low defenses or pregnant causing abortions or sequelae

—Treatment depends on each case

—Listeriosis outbreaks cause many affected and even deaths


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