Listeriosis during pregnancy

Mitko Madjunkov, Shahnaz Chaudhry, Shinya Ito
Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics 2017, 296 (2): 143-152

PURPOSE: Listeriosis is a rare foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes. It can be transmitted by consuming contaminated ready-to-eat food, long shelf-life products, deli meats, and soft cheeses. Listeria has a predilection to affect immunocompromised patients, elderly people, pregnant women and neonates. In particular, pregnant women are at ~18 times greater risk of infection than general population due to specific pregnancy-related suppressed cell-mediated immunity and placental tropism of L. monocytogenes. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current knowledge regarding listeriosis during pregnancy.

METHODS: A literature search on Medline and Embase was done for articles about listeriosis during pregnancy. A detailed review of published data on epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of listeriosis during pregnancy was performed.

RESULTS: Listeriosis during pregnancy encompasses maternal, fetal and neonatal disease. Maternal listeriosis during pregnancy usually presents as a mild febrile illness. Fetal listeriosis has a high mortality rate of 25-35%, depending on the gestational age at the time of infection. Neonatal listeriosis may present as sepsis or meningitis with severe sequels and high case fatality rate of 20%. Adequate treatment of maternal listeriosis prevents and treats fetal disease and it is of imminence importance in the treatment of the neonates. Amoxicillin or ampicillin are the first line of treatment alone or in combination with gentamicin, followed by trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole.

CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy-associated listeriosis should be considered as a cause of fever during pregnancy and appropriate treatment should be initiated preemptively. Prevention remains the best way to control listeriosis and should be reinforced among patients, health care professionals, and regulatory agencies.

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