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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1996 Aug;36(3):286-90.

Perinatal infection with Listeria monocytogenes.

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Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne.


Listeria monocytogenes has been increasingly recognized as a cause of intrauterine sepsis with associated perinatal wastage. The condition is mostly acquired through dietary intake and appropriate advice should be given to all pregnant women. The most common presentations in pregnancy include premature labour, an influenza-like illness and reduced fetal movements. In this report, we present a series of 24 cases of perinatal listeria infection presenting to either our obstetric or neonatal units and confirmed by the microbiology department of the hospital. In particular, we wish to highlight 3 cases in which antenatal diagnosis and aggressive therapy was associated with a successful outcome. Amongst the remaining 21 cases in which an antenatal diagnosis was not made, there were 5 perinatal deaths and 1 mid-trimester loss at 18 weeks. Clinicians must maintain a high index of suspicion for listeria, particularly in gravid patients who present with fever in the setting of a persistent 'flu-like' illness and premature labour. Once suspected, appropriate specimens for listeria culture should include blood, cervical swabs and midstream urine. Empirical antibiotic therapy with amoxicillin should be instituted while waiting for culture results in patients with possible Listeria monocytogenes sepsis.

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