Listeria Monocytogenes Infection (Listeriosis) Treatment & Management

Updated: Dec 01, 2017
  • Author: Karen B Weinstein, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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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.


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. [12]



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
2014 United States Prepackaged caramel apples
2011 United States Cantaloupe
2007 Massachusetts Milk
2003 United Kingdom Sandwiches
2002 [13] 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 [14] Sweden Rainbow trout
1995 [15] Switzerland Soft cheese
1994 [16] Illinois Chocolate milk
1992 [17] France Rillettes (pork product)
1985 [18] California Mexican-style soft cheese
1983 [19] New England Unpasteurized milk
1981 [20] Canada Coleslaw


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.