By Erica Martin, M.D.
Listeriosis is a food-borne illness that is caused by the bacterium listeria monocytogene. It affects around 1,600 people each year. Listeria is most likely to infect pregnant women, their newborns, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems.
Foods that can be contaminated with listeria include:
Like other food-borne infections, listeria causes fever, diarrhea and occasionally vomiting or headaches. In cases of invasive listeriosis in which the bacterium moves beyond the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, symptoms vary depending on whether you are pregnant.
Pregnant women may experience:
People other than pregnant women may experience:
Invasive infections require hospital care, as one in five cases proves fatal. Listeriosis causes fetal loss in approximately 20% of pregnancy cases.