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Listeria during Pregnancy

Listeria is a bacteria that is generally found throughout the environment. However, most cases of Listeria occur from infected food. During pregnancy, if a woman contracts listeria, the infection can be passed on to the fetus by way of the placenta. Left untreated, listeria may cause stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth and other health issues for the baby. To learn more about listeria and the treatment for this infection, take a look below at the questions that have been answered by the Experts.

Can someone get listeria from a cat?

Humans generally contract listeria from foods such as lunch meat, soft cheese, smoked fish and contaminated vegetables in salad. Generally, the only time a person can get listeria from a cat is if the cat becomes very ill from the contamination. In other words, a person would usually only contract listeria from a cat if the person gets contaminated by infected cat tissue. For example, people who can be at risk for this disease are vets who handle sick pregnant animals, the animals' dead fetuses, or excessive amounts of infected tissue of dead animals.

Listeria can also be found in soil such as in farms where there are many animals which are infected. However, listeria isn't an illness commonly found in humans. As for getting listeria from a litter box, a person generally cannot contract the infection from changing the litter box or having contact with an uninfected cat as long as they wash their hands carefully after.

Are nut butters a risk for listeria?

Butter made from nuts such as almonds is not only healthy but generally considered to be safe when purchased in the U.S. Also, listeria is a rare occurrence within the states. With a population of over 300,000,000 million people, there have generally only been about 1,000 cases of listeria.

If a mother has listeria, can the baby be saved?

Generally, infections that happen early on in a pregnancy could lead to miscarriage in the first trimester and perhaps pre-term birth in the second trimester. However, in most cases regarding pregnant women and listeria, antibiotics given to the mother also provide protection to the fetus. If there is a need for further antibiotic treatment, the baby can be given additional doses after being born.

Another point to note is that listeria in pregnancy is basically unheard of in the United States. Of the women affected, basically only 1/3 of the fetuses are affected by the infection. Of the fetuses that do become affected, usually a high percentage of them manage a full recovery.

Can a pregnant woman get listeria from a messy house?

Typically, listeria is contracted from food and not an unclean home. Listeria is usually found in contaminated lunch meats, meat spreads, smoked fish, soft cheese, hot dogs, raw meat and unpasteurized foods. However, there may be a small risk of listeria contamination if the kitchen in the house is excessively dirty and contaminated foods are present.

Many women have never heard of listeria until they become pregnant. Yet, this unknown infection tends to create a fear of many foods in the expectant mother. If you are pregnant and are unsure of what foods are safe from listeria, ask an Expert who can provide medical clarity and suggestions to put your fears to rest.

Ask an OB GYN Doctor

Dr. C.
Dr. C., Board Certified
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1681
Experience:  29 years of experience and an award-winning educator.
54412793
Type Your OB GYN Question Here...
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OB GYN Doctors are online & ready to help you now

Dr. C.
Board Certified
Satisfied Customers: 1618
28 years of experience and an award-winning educator.
Monika Hearne, M.D.
Board Certified OB/GYN
Satisfied Customers: 5745
With experience and compassion, I treat my patients like family.
Dr. Charles
OB/GYN (Doctor)
Satisfied Customers: 140
Board Certified. Solo practice for 8 years; delivered more than 1300 infants and performed more than 800 surgeries.

Recent Listeria Questions

  • hi there

    hi there
  • Quick question: I have a deep cracked cut on my cracked heal.

    Quick question: I have a deep cracked cut on my cracked heal. I didn't realize it had opened up. Can you get listeria from dirt inside the crack? I was outside at a park and realized the crack (which was red) had dirt in it. I washed it out and covered...but just wondering.
    I've become a mess about this since I have been pregnant. Thanks!!!
  • Hello I am 29 weeks pregnant tomorrow. It is a Friday night

    Hello

    I am 29 weeks pregnant tomorrow. It is a Friday night here in Sydney, so I can't reach my own obstetrician until Monday. I have an appointment with him then anyway, but don't want to worry all weekend.

    Basically I ate lunch at a pancake restaurant today and ordered a side of bacon.

    I forgot to order it crispy, which I normally do when pregnant. I was so busy talking to my friend whom I was eating with, that I didn't really register that the bacon was not what I would call well cooked, it was cooked and it was warm, but it was that pale pink colour, not red.

    We ate a lot, and also dessert. I have felt full and quite nauseous ever since.

    My question is, do I need to freak out about listeriosis? I mean it is not like the bacon was raw/cold, but it was probably not as fried as it should have been.

    I am normally hyper vigilant about eating while pregnant, to the point where being pregnant stresses me out for the whole 9 months, because of constant worry about listeria.

    Any advice would be appreciated. I am an anxious type anyway but the thought of killing my baby through careless eating is killing me!!

    Thanks...
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