Investigation of an Outbreak of Listeriosis: New Hypotheses for the Etiology of Epidemic Listeria Monocytogenes Infections

J Infect Dis. 1989 Apr;159(4):680-5. doi: 10.1093/infdis/159.4.680.


From December 1986 to March 1987 an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infection occurred in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. A patient-control study showed patients were more likely than controls to have had an ill family member and to have used antidiarrheal medication during the month before their illness. Diet histories showed patients were significantly more likely to have eaten ice cream or salami than were controls, and to have shopped at one grocery store chain. Subtyping of L. monocytogenes isolates of patients showed no predominant strain, and cultures of food products eaten by patients were negative except for Brie cheese eaten by one patient. With no predominant strain of L. monocytogenes in the patients, a common source for this outbreak is unlikely. Thus, the identified risk factors may have been associated with carriage of L. monocytogenes and a coinfecting organism may have precipitated disseminated disease. Possible cofactors should be considered in investigations of future outbreaks of listeriosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Ice Cream
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunosuppression
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Listeria monocytogenes / classification
  • Listeriosis / epidemiology*
  • Listeriosis / etiology
  • Listeriosis / microbiology
  • Meat Products
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotyping