Listeriosis is a medical condition that is caused by the bacteria commonly known as listeria (full name Listeria monocytogenes). The most common symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it may cause meningitis, which is a very serious condition. The ability of the bacteria to pass the blood brain barrier and through the placenta make listeriosis is a very serious infection and it kills about 1 in every 5 persons that it infects. This bacteria is commonly encountered in many food products, but an infection with listeria is very uncommon in healthy humans. It can affect the elderly, pregnant mothers, newborn babies and those with a weak immune system. Let’s take a look at how this infection is treated.
How is an listeria infection treated?
Most people suffer no ill effects from the listeria bacteria, but if the bacteria has caused an infection and has passed into the bloodstream it must be treated immediately. The antibiotics ampicillin and gentamicin are commonly used together. Treatment lasts at least 2 weeks when blood infection in present and 3 weeks in the case of meningitis. In the case of a brain abscess at least 6 weeks treatment is required. Even with treatment a serious infection with listeria has a high mortality rate.
A pregnant woman may not notice many severe symptoms herself, but the bacteria may pass to the fetus. If this occurs early delivery, infection and death of the newborn baby can occur. Your health care provider should be able to provide you with a list of foods that should be avoided while pregnant.
Did you know?
Certain strains of listeria can invade the heart, which can lead to serious heart conditions that are extremely difficult to treat. It is estimated that these strains are responsible for over 10% of listeriosis cases.