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J Food Prot. 2007 May;70(5):1122-8.

Dose-response of Listeria monocytogenes after oral exposure in pregnant guinea pigs.

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Department of Environmental Health Science, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Listeriosis, a severe disease that results from exposure to the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, is responsible for approximately 2500 illnesses and 500 deaths in the United States each year. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to develop listeriosis than the general population, with adverse pregnancy outcomes that include spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and neonatal meningitis. The objective of this study was to determine an infective dose that resulted in stillbirths and infectivity of selected tissues in pregnant guinea pigs. Pregnant guinea pigs were exposed orally on gestation day 35 to 10(4) to 10(8) L. monocytogenes CFU in sterile whipping cream. L. monocytogenes was recovered at 64, 73, 90, and 100% from the livers of animals infected with 10(5), 10(6), 10(7), and 10(8) CFU, respectively. In dams exposed to > or =10(6) CFU, L. monocytogenes was cultured from 50% of the spleen samples and 33% of the gallbladder samples. Eleven of 34 dams infected with > or =10(6) CFU delivered stillborn pups. L. monocytogenes was cultured from the placenta, liver, and brain tissue of all stillbirths. Dams that delivered nonviable fetuses after treatment with > or =10(7) L. monocytogenes CFU had fecal samples positive for L. monocytogenes at every collection posttreatment. On the basis of a log-logistic model, the dose that adversely affected 50% of the pregnancies was approximately 10(7) L. monocytogenes CFU compared with that estimated from a human outbreak of 106 CFU. Listeriosis in pregnant guinea pigs can result in stillbirths, and the overall disease is similar to that described in nonhuman primates and in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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