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 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 (2015). Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, and empyema. In DL Kasper et al., eds., Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th ed., vol. 2, pp. 883-906. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC – Infectious Disease

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017