Listeriosis is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns. The main route of acquisition of Listeria is through the ingestion of contaminated food products. Listeria has been isolated from raw meat, dairy products, vegetables A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has invasive infection.
Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.Pregnant women typically experience only a mild, flu-like illness. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Bacteremia should be treated for 2 weeks, meningitis for 3 weeks, and brain abscess for at least 6 weeks. Listeriosis is usually diagnosed with a blood test. If it's thought that the infection has spread to the nervous system, further tests may include an MRI scan and a lumbar puncture.
The main means of prevention is through the promotion of safe handling, cooking and consumption of food. Those suffering from illness should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration—a possible serious health effect of a foodborne illness. Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of all foodborne illnesses, including listeriosis. The most helpful fluids for protecting against dehydration are oral rehydration fluids. In Ireland the death rate for Listeriosis is 1.78 per 10,000 of the population.