PloS one

Risk Factors for Sporadic Non-Pregnancy Associated Listeriosis in Germany-Immunocompromised Patients and Frequently Consumed Ready-To-Eat Products.

PMID 26599484


Non-pregnancy associated (N-PA) listeriosis, caused by Listeria monocytogenes, is a rare but severe disease, and is predominantly food-borne. Most cases appear sporadic and their infection vehicle remains unknown. Incidence has increased since 2008 in Germany. We aimed to identify underlying conditions and foods associated with sporadic N-PA listeriosis in Germany. We performed a nationwide case-control study from March 2012-December 2013. Cases were sporadic N-PA listeriosis patients notified to public health. Control subjects were age (40-65 years, 66-75 years, ≥ 76 years) frequency-matched persons from a nationwide random telephone sample. A structured questionnaire collected information on underlying diseases, therapies and >60 food items. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analysis, adjusting for host factors identified by causal diagram theory, and calculated population attributable fractions. We enrolled 109 cases and 1982 controls. Cases' median age was 69 years, 55% were male, 44% received immunosuppressive therapy within 3 months prior to illness onset; a further 28% had at least one immunocompromising disease. In multivariable analysis, immunosuppressive therapy (OR 8.8, 95%CI 4.9-15.6), immunocompromising disease (OR 2.7; 95%CI 1.4-5.2), gastric acid suppression (OR 3.0; 95%CI 1.4-6.3), the consumption of cold cooked sausages (OR 2.6; 95%CI 1.6-4.4), the preferred consumption of packaged cheese (OR 2.1; 95%CI 1.3-3.5) and pre-sliced cheese (OR 2.2; 95%CI 1.3-3.7) were significantly associated with N-PA listeriosis. These foods accounted for 59% of all cases. Typical high risk foods, e.g. cold seafood, certain types of cheeses, tended to be negatively associated with disease. In conclusion, immunosuppressive therapy and frequently consumed ready-to-eat foods are the main risk factors for sporadic N-PA listeriosis in Germany. To reduce their risk, immunocompromised persons should consume the identified foods well before the 'use-by' date. The microbiological criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods may insufficiently protect persons who are markedly immunocompromised.