Listeria Monocytogenes Infection (Listeriosis) Treatment & Management

Updated: May 21, 2019
  • Author: Karen B Weinstein, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Treatment

Medical Care

Intravenous antibiotics must be started immediately when the diagnosis is suspected or confirmed.

Diagnosis is established by culture of the organism from blood, CSF, or other sterile body fluid.

Person-to-person transmission does not occur; therefore, isolation precautions are not necessary.

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Surgical Care

There have been case reports of L monocytogenes –associated bone and joint infections, but information is scarce. A 2012 retrospective study of 43 patients found that osteoarticular listeriosis primarily involves prosthetic joints and occurs in immunocompromised patients. In cases of periprosthetic joint infection, optimal therapy includes surgical removal of the prosthetic joint. [13]

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Consultations

Listeriosis may be sporadic or may be part of a larger epidemic. The table below lists some of the most recent epidemics. Consultation with an infectious disease specialist or an epidemiologist is important when epidemic listeriosis is suspected.

Table. Epidemic Listeriosis (Open Table in a new window)

Year

Location

Source

2017 South Africa Processed meat product (polony)

2014

United States

Prepackaged caramel apples

2011

United States

Cantaloupe

2007

Massachusetts

Milk

2003

United Kingdom

Sandwiches

2002 [14]

United States (nationwide)

Delicatessen turkey breast

August 1998 to January 1999

Multiple states in the United States

Hot dogs, deli meats

1997 [3]

Italy

Corn

1997 [15]

Sweden

Rainbow trout

1995 [16]

Switzerland

Soft cheese

1994 [17]

Illinois

Chocolate milk

1992 [18]

France

Rillettes (pork product)

1985 [19]

California

Mexican-style soft cheese

1983 [20]

New England

Unpasteurized milk

1981 [21]

Canada

Coleslaw

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Prevention

The following are measures that can be used to prevent listeriosis:

  • Cook all raw food thoroughly.
  • Wash raw vegetables.
  • Avoid consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk or milk products.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  • Pregnant or immunocompromised patients should avoid soft cheeses (eg, feta, Brie, Camembert, bleu). Cream cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese are allowed.
  • Reheat leftover or ready-to-eat foods (eg, hot dogs) until steaming hot.
  • Avoid delicatessen foods unless they are thoroughly reheated.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature.
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