Last Updated: 2023-07-07

Author(s): Anzengruber F., Navarini A.

ICD11: 1C1A.Z

Murray 1926.

  • Infection with Listeria monocytogenes, a facultatively pathogenic, motile, microaerophilic, Gram-positive, non-spore-forming, catalase-positive, facultatively aerobic rod.
  • Historical note
  • Listeriosis was named after Joseph Baron Lister (1827–1912), a British surgeon.

  • Incidence: 100-300 reported cases/year.
  • Veterinarians and farmers are particularly often affected.
  • A special risk exists when pregnant women are infected (embryopathy).
  • In some cases, an epidemic occurrence could be proven.
  • M:F = 1:1.

  • Pathogen
  • Listeria monocytogenes, rarely L. seeligeri or L. ivanovii.
  • Transmission by smear infection, via food ingestion and diaplacentally.
  • Reservoir
  • Animals, sewage, food (milk and poultry products) and waste. L. monocytogenes is detectable in the GI tract of many people.
  • Predisposing factors
  • Immunosuppression (childbirth, old age, neoplasia, HIV infection, transplantation, pregnancy).

  • Monucleosis-like symptomatology.
  • Febrile temperatures, drowsiness, cephalgia, lumbar pain, meningitis and sepsis.
  • Gastrointestinal complaints.
  • Abscesses (granulomatosis infantiseptica), petechiae and bluish nodules as signs of (extramedullary haematopoiesis).
  • Characteristic are erythematous nodules, which become papules and pustules and eventually ulcerate. In farmers and veterinarians, it is usually occupational listeriosis).
  • Immune-suppressed patients: Pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.
  • Infestation of any organ is possible.

  • History.
  • Clinical.
  • Culture (blood, stool, bact. smear e.g.: pharyngeal swab or meconium, lochia, vaginal secretions, faeces, wounds).
  • Infected (sometimes asymptomatic) persons can excrete Listeria via faeces for several weeks to months.
  • In the urine and lochial secretions of the mother of infected newborns, the pathogens can be detected up to 2 weeks postpartum.

Listeria meningitis (lethality: approx. 30%).

Immunity possible through recurrent exposure (veterinarians and farmers)

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  2. Reichertz P, Seeliger HP. [Studies on the question of the relation between serum antibodies and skin reactions in cases of suspected listeriosis]. Z Klin Med 1962;157:331-49.
  3. Kalkoff KW, Schiff W. [Listeriosis of the skin caused by contact infection]. Hautarzt 1960;11:201-4.
  4. Novak J. [Special skin symptoms in listeriosis]. Cas Lek Cesk 1957;96:420-1.