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CMAJ. 1988 Mar 1;138(5):413-8.

Listeria monocytogenes: a foodborne pathogen.

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Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Department of National Health and Welfare, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ont.


Listeriosis, caused by Listeria monocytogenes, appears to be increasing in incidence worldwide. The disease is of great concern to the food industry. A recent outbreak in California was linked to the consumption of Mexican-style soft cheese and involved more than 300 cases, 30% of which were fatal. L. monocytogenes can be found in a variety of dairy products, leafy vegetables, fish and meat products. It can grow in refrigerated foods and is more heat resistant than most vegetative microbes. The epidemiologic features of listeriosis are poorly understood, and the minimum infectious dose is unknown. Those predisposed to listeriosis include immunocompromised people and pregnant women and their fetuses. Meningitis, spontaneous abortion and septicemia are the primary manifestations of the disease. Early recognition is critical for successful treatment, and ampicillin is the preferred drug. Listeriosis should be considered in any febrile patient with neurologic symptoms of unknown origin, as well as in women with unexplained recurrent miscarriages, premature labour or fetal death. A food source should be the prime suspect if any isolated case or outbreak occurs.

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