Listeria and Pregnancy
Listeria starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and sometimes diarrhoea but the symptoms can take a few days or weeks to appear after eating contaminated food. The infection is particularly dangerous in the pregnant women.
Listeria is a bacteria which can effect a pregnant women, through contaminated food. There are fifteen species of Listeria. The major species which infect humans is Listeria Monocytogenes. This causes a rare, but dangerous condition called listeriosis which can be harmful for pregnant women.
Listeria can cause significant complications to the mother and baby. Although listeriosis (the illness from ingesting Listeria) is rare, pregnant women are more susceptible to it than non-pregnant healthy adults.
Listeria has been found in uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, fruit such as rockmelon and apples, pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, foods made from milk, and processed foods. While it is a common bacteria, it can be easily killed by cooking and pasteurisation.
There is a chance that contamination may occur in ready-to-eat foods, such as fruits not washed properly, hot dogs and deli meats because contamination may occur after cooking and before packaging.
According to the American Centre of Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1,700 persons become seriously ill each year in the United States and among these, 260 will die. Although the CDC states that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected than non-pregnant healthy adults, the number of cases of listeriosis in pregnant women is about 17%.
After a dormant state of 2 to 30 days, the mother may develop:
Rarely, Listeriosis can spread to the nervous system and can cause:
Listeria is not dangerous if treated properly. However, if left untreated, it can be dangerous to the baby especially if you have been infected at a last trimester.
It can cause:
If you suspect you have been infected by Listeria, then a simple blood test will be performed. If the tests are positive, Listeria can be fully managed. With proper treatment there will be no effect to the mother or baby. A course of antibiotics will be given to mother, as well as, to her newborn. These antibiotics are safe for the mother and baby.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the antibiotics will be administered orally or through a drip. This is notifiable disease and your doctor will notify the health department.
If you have been infected by Listeria or have any of the symptoms above, please contact your Obstetrician immediately.
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