Listeria Food Poisoning Can Cause Heart Disease: Study

Listeria infections caused by food poisoning can lead to a risk of heart disease, according to the findings of a new study by U.S. researchers. 

Researchers have found incidents where the bacteria known as Listeria monoyctogenes has attacked the human heart, potentially causing serious heart disease. Their findings were published online in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Listeria infections, known as listeriosis, are already known to be one of the more serious forms of food poisoning, with a fatality rate of 25-30%. Listeriosis can attack the nervous system, causing meningitis and other complications. It can cause miscarriages and still births in women, and is particularly dangerous to children, the elderly and those with weakened immune system.

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Researchers from the University of Illinois, Washington University School of Medicine, and Baystate Medical Center-Tufts University School of Medicine say that in seven to 10 percent of listeria food poisoning cases, the strain infects the heart. The researchers said they are uncertain whether the listeria heart disease cases are due to particular strains of the bacteria or if there are certain patients who have traits that could cause them to suffer heart infections as a result of listeria food poisoning. However, they said that the study’s results are strong indications that some populations of Listeria monocyctogenes have acquired the ability to invade and damage the human heart.

Scientists discovered the listeria heart risks by taking strains from contaminated food, laboratory inventories and patients and used them to infect mice. They found that two listeria strains appeared to have a high rate of heart infections, with 10 to 15 times more bacteria found in the hearts of the mice than other listeria strains.

Blood tests are usually required to diagnose listeriosis, which can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of listeriosis include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever.

Listeria causes about 2,500 cases of listeriosis per year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC gives the following tips to help prevent listeria infections:

  • Thoroughly cook raw meat
  • Wash raw vegetables before eating
  • Separate uncooked meats from vegetables and pre-cooked food
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk, or raw milk, or products made from raw milk
  • Wash hands, cooking utensils and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods
  • Eat perishable and ready-to-eat food as soon as possible


  • roholahJuly 1, 2011 at 8:45 am

    this article very good.

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