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Listeriosis

German: Listeriose

named after the english surgeon Joseph Baron Lister (1827-1912)

1 Definition

Listeriosis is an infectious disease that is caused by listeria. Listeria are gram-positive bacteria which can infect humans as well as animals. This infection is especially dangerous during pregnancy, during which it can be transmitted diaplacentally and can cause severe fetal infections and might lead to sepsis and even death.

2 Cause

Listeria are primarily transmitted through the consumption of contaminated foods such as raw sausage products, smoked fish and unpasteurized milk products. Consequently the listeriosis is considered to be a type of food poisoning. Pregnant women and immunocompromised people should avoid these products because of their increased risk of infection. Additionally alcoholics and diabetics are more vulnerable for infection.

3 Symptoms

The symptoms of listeriosis are unspecific, flu like complaints and sometimes gastrointestinal complaints. The incubation period is very variable and ranges from 3 to 70 days.

4 Complications

A feared complication of listeriosis is the occurence of listeria meningitis. It presents itself clinically as a typical bacterial meningitis and for its definite diagnosis a bacteriological examination is needed.

see also: listeria monocytogenes

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