The Danger of Listeria Pregnancy. Listeriosis Treatment and Prevention

Listeria pregnancy. Pregnant woman sitting and holding her tummy

The vulnerability of women to various infections during pregnancy increases, as the body is weakened by the increased burden. A future mother is fully responsible for the health of her baby. During this period it is especially important to observe precautions, try to carefully observe personal hygiene measures and choose safe products. Quite often, harmless before milk or cheese, can be a source of spreading a most dangerous disease – listeriosis. So, what is listeria pregnancy? How dangerous is it for the mother and the baby?

Listeriosis During Pregnancy

Listeria pregnancy occurs in one case from a thousand. The most important thing is to detect listeriosis in pregnant women on time and begin treatment immediately. The consequences of the disease can be irreparable.

Despite the fact that this disease is quite rare, all future mothers should exercise caution and carefully monitor their condition. This is especially true for pregnant women in the third trimester, since from the seventh month the risk of infection increases many times.

Listeria pregnancy. Listeria

What is Listeriosis? Listeriosis is an infection caused by pathogenic bacteria of listeria monocytosis. Infection occurs from unwashed vegetables and fruits, from animal products (meat, milk) that have not undergone heat treatment, from contact with domestic animals, etc. Also, the infection can be intrauterine.

Symptoms of Listeria during Pregnancy

Only a doctor can determine the presence of listeriosis in a pregnant woman. But you can suspect the problem by the following symptoms:

  • Symptoms similar to the influenza virus: high temperature, chills, fever.
  • Muscle pain and low back pain during pregnancy can also be a symptom of listeriosis.
  • Painful sensations in the abdomen – convulsive, spasmodic pain, diarrhea is possible.
  • The general weakness, headache.
  • A sharp increase in body temperature to 38 degrees or more.
  • A feeling of a rush of blood to the head.
  • Body pain.
  • A sore throat.
  • Diarrhea and conjunctivitis are less common.

Keep in mind that not all symptoms may appear. But there is always a fever.

As you can see, the listed signs almost do not differ from usual ARD or influenza. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize the infection externally.

listeria pregnancy - pregnant woman has a headache

It is important to know that if there is listeria in the body, it doesn’t necessarily signal you about it. If the immunity of a pregnant woman is strong enough, symptoms can be absent at all. Thus, the problem can be determined only by a doctor, after carrying out special laboratory tests.

Causes of Listeriosis in Pregnancy

Listeria enters the body with contaminated food, in particular when consuming poorly cooked meat and unpasteurized dairy products, such as raw milk cheese. The possibility of getting infected with listeriosis through the respiratory tract during contact with domestic animals is also possible. In addition to domestic animals, mice and rats are also spreading listeriosis. Once in the body, listeria penetrates into the tissue fluid. Thus, it can get from the blood to any organ. Therefore, the clinical picture is diverse: from light lesions of the eyes and lymph nodes, to angina and sepsis. Pneumonia, meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the meninges and brain), inflammation of the heart tissue can also be results of listeria pregnancy.

A pregnant woman can get sick because of:

  • contact with sick domestic or wild animals / birds;
  • drinking raw or pasteurized milk that has not been centrifuged and boiled;
  • consumption of fruits, vegetables or berries that were collected in the territory where the infected animals live;
  • eating poorly thermally processed meat;
  • the use of products without heat treatment, if there are mice, rats or rabbits in the house;
  • if the diet includes salads from raw cabbage (it could be watered with contaminated water), raw eggs, soft cheese or ice cream, made from raw milk;
  • physical contact with infected people, after which the pregnant woman is eating food without washing her hands first.

Effect of Listeriosis on Pregnancy

If you become infected with listeriosis at a time when your immune system is not weakened by any other concomitant disease, then the influence of listeria on your health will be very insignificant. But even if the infection does not cause health problems for you, then for your developing child it can have quite serious consequences. Especially, if you don’t treat it in time and quickly.

Listeria pregnancy. sad woman at the doctor

Listeria can infect the placenta, amniotic fluid and the fetus. Thus, it can cause miscarriage or the birth of a dead child. Listeria infants who survive are more likely to be born prematurely. Some of these children are already born seriously ill, some get sick some time after birth. Still, they all face problems that include blood poisoning, shortness of breath, fever, skin ulcers, internal injuries and infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis.

Some babies born from infected mothers seem healthy at birth.  The appearance of the first signs of infection (usually the development of meningitis) begins after a week or even several weeks after childbirth. This so-called “late onset of listeriosis” can be the result of infection of the child during labor (in an infected woman, the bacteria live in the cervix and vagina), or if the infection was from another source, not from the mother. Unfortunately, many infected infants die or suffer through all their lives from listeriosis consequences.

The Danger of Listeria Pregnancy

For the Mother

A pregnant woman can be attacked by listeria repeatedly, especially if the symptoms of the disease are not pronounced. Listeriosis causes:

  • Periodically recurring sore throats.
  • Cardiological problems.
  • Periodically relapsing conjunctivitis.
  • Frequent recurring acute respiratory infections.
  • Inflammatory diseases of the reproductive organs, kidneys and bladder.
  • Miscarriage, repeated spontaneous abortions.

Listeria pregnancy. Depressed woman

The main danger for a pregnant woman may be the asymptomatic listeriosis, since the infection can intensify with weakening of immunity, causing a generalized form of the disease.

For the Baby

The fetus is most vulnerable to penetration of listeria. Transplacental infection leads to:

  • severe developmental malformations;
  • intrauterine fetal death;
  • delayed development of the fetus.

The pathological course of pregnancy, infection of the fetus and the birth of a dead or premature baby, unable to live outside the mother’s body, are the main consequences of fetal infection through the placenta.

Newborns who get infected during the passage of the birth canal tend to get sick ten days after birth.

Unfortunately, most babies die. A fifth of the infants have residual effects of the nervous system damage.

Listeria Pregnancy: Methods of Treatment

When a listeriosis is diagnosed in a pregnant woman, treatment is carried out in a hospital, in the infectious department. Long-term therapy with antibiotics killing listeria is carried out.

If the course of the disease is asymptomatic, then in the detection of high titers, confirming the presence of the disease, treatment is recommended from the second trimester. In most cases, with adequate therapy, the child is born healthy.

Listeria pregnancy. in the hospital

Intravenous infusions are prescribed in cases of intoxication, to support the organism of the future mother.

The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the course of the disease. But usually it takes more than two weeks. After the main clinical signs disappear, the patient is considered not contagious and can continue treatment at home. After the detection of listeria pregnancy, a woman stays under the supervision of an infectious disease specialist for at least two years to prevent relapse.

Newborns and children under one year infected with listeria are undergoing massive therapy in a hospital environment, since the disease affects many organs and can result in death.

Prevention of Listeria Pregnancy

Treatment of listeria pregnancy takes place under the control of a specialist. You will need to take antibiotics, the kind and dose of which the doctor will calculate, taking into account the length of pregnancy and the state of health of a woman.

Do not engage is self-treatment! It is too dangerous. It is better to supplement medical appointments with preventive measures of listeriosis.

  • Eat only fresh food. If more than 20 hours have passed since the dish was cooked, do not eat it.
  • Defrost foods in the microwave, not in the fresh air, where it can become a habitat for bacteria.
  • Pay special attention to heat treatment of products. Even warming up food, make sure that everything warms up.
  • Keep the refrigerator clean. Keep the products separate from each other. Wash and disinfect the shelves and walls in time.
  • Organize your kitchen so that each product has its own board for slicing.
  • Observe hygiene. Wash your hands after you come in contact with fresh meat and milk.
  • Pay attention to safe communication with pets. Try not to come in contact with their secretions.
  • While in public places, try not to touch unnecessarily the railing, door handles, other people’s hair, etc.
  • When leaving the house, take an antibacterial gel and / or wet wipes along.

Be careful and always remember that the habit of hygiene is the guarantee of good health not only for the mother, but for your future child!

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