Meningitis and Listeria Monocytogenes

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Topic Overview

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria are commonly found in soil; dust; water; sewage; unpasteurized cheeses such as brie, mozzarella, and blue cheese; and uncooked vegetables. These bacteria can enter the body through contaminated food or water. Foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause outbreaks of meningitis.

Meningitis caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria occurs most often in newborns, older adults, and people with long-term illnesses or impaired immune systems. About 10% of cases of bacterial meningitis each year in the United States are caused by Listeria monocytogenes.footnote 1 It can be a serious illness, causing death in some cases.

Related Information



  1. Roos KL, Tyler KL (2012). Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, and empyema. In DL Longo et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3410–3434. New York: McGraw-Hill.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Current as ofMay 22, 2015