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The most common listeria treatment is a combination of ampicillin and gentamicin, two antibiotics which can kill the bacteria responsible for a listeria infection. In addition to antibiotic treatment, the patient will usually be monitored for signs of complications. The success of the treatment depends on when it is provided, and the patient's health. In patients with compromised immune systems or an infection which has been allowed to progress, even with listeria treatment death can occur.
Listeria or listeriosis is caused by infection with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium which most commonly enters the body through contaminated food. In healthy individuals, the body is often able to fight off the bacteria, sometimes with mild symptoms which are dismissed as general malaise. However, in people who are elderly, very young, or pregnant, infection with this bacterium can cause very serious illness which requires treatment.
People with a listeria infection experience symptoms like fever, vomiting, fatigue, and muscle weakness. This infection is extremely rare, which can sometimes make it difficult to recognize because doctors may not be expecting listeriosis. When patients go to the doctor for symptoms of “food poisoning,” they should document what they ate, and if possible, bring in samples of the food they consumed. Listeriosis is sometimes linked with improperly handled dairy products, for example, so if a patient got sick after eating something with cheese, a doctor might suspect listeriosis.
Patients with listeria infections usually receive treatment in a hospital environment. Listeria treatment is often administered intravenously, and in the case of infants, the patient may be kept in an intensive care unit and closely monitored. For pregnant women, it is extremely important to get treatment as soon as listeriosis is recognized, so that the infection will not have time to spread to the fetus. Listeria treatment can also include the provision of intravenous fluids along with monitoring of the patient's temperature.
Because listeria treatment is standardized, patients can usually receive excellent care in almost any hospital, as long as the hospital has adequate supplies of the medications used to treat listeria. There are a number of forms of ampicillin and gentamicin which can be used in listeria treatment. However, patients may find that urban hospitals are more quick to recognize listeriosis because they are more likely to have seen cases before and because staffers have more experience as a result of the high volume of medical emergencies they see every year.