Listeria Monocytogenes

February 27, 2012 by staff 

Listeria Monocytogenes, Listeria monocytogenes, a facultative anaerobe, intracellular bacterium, is the causative agent of listeriosis. It is one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens, with 20 to 30 percent of clinical infections resulting in death. Responsible for approximately 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths in the United States (U.S.) annually, listeriosis is the leading cause of death among foodborne bacterial pathogens, with fatality rates exceeding even Salmonella and Clostridium botulinum.

L. monocytogenes is a Gram-positive bacterium, in the division Firmicutes, named for Joseph Lister. Motile via flagella at 30°C and below, but usually not at 37°C, L. monocytogenes can instead move within eukaryotic cells by explosive polymerization of actin filaments (known as comet tails or actin rockets).

Studies suggest up to 10% of human gastrointestinal tracts may be colonized by L. monocytogenes.

Nevertheless, clinical diseases due to L. monocytogenes are more frequently recognized by veterinarians, especially as meningoencephalitis in ruminants. See: listeriosis in animals.

Due to its frequent pathogenicity, causing meningitis in newborns (acquired transvgnally), pregnant mothers are often advised not to eat soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, feta, and queso blanco fresco, which may be contaminated with and permit growth of L. monocytogenes. It is the third-most-common cause of meningitis in newborns.

More recently, L. monocytogenes has been used as the model organism to illustrate the pathobiotechnology concept.

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