Listeria Infection Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 09, 2018
  • Author: Terence Zach, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Consider listeriosis in cases of neonatal sepsis or meningitis and in cases of sepsis or meningitis in children who are immunocompromised.

  • Listeria is acquired by ingestion of contaminated food products.

  • Mothers who acquire Listeria may experience influenzalike illnesses, with headache, malaise, fever, backache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and chills. Mothers with Listeria infections may also undergo premature labor. [11]

  • Listeria in newborns can be classified as early onset or late-onset infection.

  • Meconium-stained amniotic fluid is common in newborns with early onset Listeria.

  • Respiratory difficulty is common, including a history of cyanotic episodes, rapid breathing, and grunting.

  • Parents and health care providers may report poor feeding and fever.



Listeriosis presents in the same manner as other more common neonatal pathogens, such as group B streptococci and Escherichia coli.

  • Respiratory distress - Tachypnea, grunting, apnea, and retractions

  • Temperature instability

  • Poor feeding

  • Lethargy/irritability

  • Seizures

  • Granulomatosis infantisepticum

    • Erythematous rash

    • Small, pale nodules or granulomas



See the list below:

  • L monocytogenes is acquired via the ingestion of contaminated food products.

  • Newborns acquire Listeria transplacentally, by ascending infection via ruptured amniotic membranes or upon exposure during vaginal delivery.