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Epidemiology and Clinical Manifestations of Infection

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  • Author: Walter F. Schlech III1
  • Editors: Vincent A. Fischetti2, Richard P. Novick3, Joseph J. Ferretti4, Daniel A. Portnoy5, Miriam Braunstein6, Julian I. Rood7
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 2: The Rockefeller University, New York, NY; 3: Skirball Institute for Molecular Medicine, NYU Medical Center, New York, NY; 4: Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Oklahoma City, OK; 5: Department of Molecular and Cellular Microbiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; 6: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; 7: Infection and Immunity Program, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Source: microbiolspec May 2019 vol. 7 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.GPP3-0014-2018
  • Received 10 January 2018 Accepted 25 March 2019 Published 17 May 2019
  • Walter F. Schlech III, [email protected]
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  • Abstract:

    Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive pathogenic bacterium which can be found in soil or water. Infection with the organism can develop after ingestion of contaminated food products. Small and large outbreaks of listeriosis have been described. Listeria monocytogenes can cause a number of clinical syndromes, most frequently sepsis, meningitis, and rhombencephalitis, particularly in immunocompromised hosts. The latter syndrome mimics the veterinary infection in ruminants called “circling disease”. Neonatal infection can occur as a result of maternal chorioamnionitis (“early onset” sepsis) or through passage through a birth canal colonized with Listeria from the gastrointestinal tract. (“late onset” meningitis). Treatment of listeriosis is usually with a combination of ampicillin and an aminoglycoside but other regimens have been used. The mortality rate is high, reflecting the combination of an immunocompromised host and an often delayed diagnosis.

  • Citation: Schlech W. 2019. Epidemiology and Clinical Manifestations of Infection. Microbiol Spectrum 7(3):GPP3-0014-2018. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.GPP3-0014-2018.


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Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive pathogenic bacterium which can be found in soil or water. Infection with the organism can develop after ingestion of contaminated food products. Small and large outbreaks of listeriosis have been described. Listeria monocytogenes can cause a number of clinical syndromes, most frequently sepsis, meningitis, and rhombencephalitis, particularly in immunocompromised hosts. The latter syndrome mimics the veterinary infection in ruminants called “circling disease”. Neonatal infection can occur as a result of maternal chorioamnionitis (“early onset” sepsis) or through passage through a birth canal colonized with Listeria from the gastrointestinal tract. (“late onset” meningitis). Treatment of listeriosis is usually with a combination of ampicillin and an aminoglycoside but other regimens have been used. The mortality rate is high, reflecting the combination of an immunocompromised host and an often delayed diagnosis.

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Image of FIGURE 1

Computed tomography scan from a 72-year-old male with rhombencephalitis. The arrows point to multiple microabscesses.

Source: microbiolspec May 2019 vol. 7 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.GPP3-0014-2018
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Some foods implicated in published reports of foodborne listeriosis

Source: microbiolspec May 2019 vol. 7 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.GPP3-0014-2018
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Some clinical syndromes associated with infection

Source: microbiolspec May 2019 vol. 7 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.GPP3-0014-2018

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