Can a vaccine protect fetuses and newborns from listeriosis

Listeriosis is a fatal infection for fetuses and newborns with two clinical main morbidities in the neonatal period, meningitis and diffused cutaneous lesions.

amy.pregnant.listeriaIn this study, we vaccinated pregnant females with two gold glyconanoparticles (GNP) loaded with two peptides, listeriolysin peptide 91–99 (LLO91–99) or glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 1–22 peptide (GAPDH1–22). Neonates born to vaccinated mothers were free of bacteria and healthy, while non-vaccinated mice presented clear brain affections and cutaneous diminishment of melanocytes.

Therefore, these nanoparticle vaccines are effective measures to offer pregnant mothers at high risk of listeriosis interesting therapies that cross the placenta.

Pregnancy vaccination with gold glyco-nanoparticles carrying Listeria monocytogenes peptides protects against Listeriosis and brain- and cutaneous-associated morbidities

Nanomaterials 2016, 6(8), 151; doi:10.3390/nano6080151 (registering DOI)

R Calderón-Gonzalez, H Terán-Navarro, E Frande-Cabanes, E Ferrández-Fernández, J Freire, S Penadés, S Yañez-Díaz, C Alvarez-Domínguez

To all the pregnant ladies: Hepatitis E is a risk

It is of great concern that pregnant women with acute viral hepatitis (AVH) type E have serious consequences. This study aimed to estimate the case-fatality risk (CFR) and potential risk factors of pregnant women with AVH type E.

We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases for studies containing data on CFR in pregnancy with AVH type E. A pooled estimate of CFR was calculated using a random-effects model. Potential sources of heterogeneity were explored using subgroup analysis, sensitivity analysis, and meta-regression. We identified 47 eligible studies with a total African and Asian population of 3968 individuals. The pooled CFRs of maternal and fetal outcomes were 20·8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 16·6–25·3] and 34·2% (95% CI 26·0–43·0), respectively. Compared with these, the pooled CFR was highest (61·2%) in women with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). Community-based surveys had lower pooled CFR (12·2%, 95% CI 9·2–15·6) and heterogeneity (25·8%, 95% CI 20·1–32·0) than hospital-based surveys. Univariate analysis showed that hospital-based surveying (P = 0·007), and patients in the third trimester of pregnancy or with FHF (P < 0·05), were significantly associated with CFR. Intrauterine fetal mortality (27·0%) was statistically higher than neonatal mortality (3·9%).

Control measures for HEV infection would reduce feto-maternal mortality in Asia and Africa.

Case-fatality risk of pregnant women with acute viral hepatitis type E: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Epidemiology and Infection, Volume 144, Issue 10, July 2016, pp. 2098-2106, DOI:

Jin, Y. Zhao, X. Zhang, B. Wang, P. Liu

Where’s the risk assessment? Raw British eggs safe for pregnant women, old folks, report says

In an apparent triumph of culture over science, the UK’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food says pregnant women should be told they can safely eat runny eggs, almost 30 years after the Salmonella crisis.

runny-egg-yolksBritish eggs with the red lion mark carry such a low risk that vulnerable groups, such as expectant mothers and elderly people, could eat them lightly cooked or raw in items such as mayonnaise.

The report by the committee’s egg working group said lion-marked eggs, which make up almost 90% of UK production, should be categorised as “very low” risk. This was because improved hygiene and storage had resulted in “a major reduction in the microbiological risk from salmonella” in British hen eggs in the last 15 years.

It recommended that the Food Standards Agency change its official advice on these eggs but said the warning should remain in place for imported eggs, UK eggs without the lion mark and those from birds other than hens.

Fears over salmonella peaked in the late 1980s when 2 million chickens were slaughtered and pregnant women were told to avoid undercooked eggs.

The ACMSF report said: “The ‘very low’ risk level means that eggs produced under the lion code, or produced under demonstrably equivalent comprehensive schemes, can be served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society, including those that are more vulnerable to infection, in both domestic and commercial settings, including care homes and hospitals.”

In 1988 the then junior health minister Edwina Currie said most egg production in Britain was infected with salmonella. Her comments sparked a public outcry and forced her to resign two weeks later. By early 1989 the link between eggs and salmonella poisoning was proved beyond doubt.


HPP may be safe but this advert is bad

In 2005, Hormel Foodservice became the first meat processor to make a significant investment in High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP).

HPP is employed after the meat is sliced and packaged — so there is no opportunity for harmful pathogens and food spoilage organisms to re-enter the package, and no need for taste-altering preservatives.

Sounds good, although I wonder about the potential for contamination once the package is opened.

But check out this ad which is a good example of marketers messing up science.

Expectant mothers are advised not to eat cold cuts and other refrigerated ready-to-eat foods because of the potential for Listeria contamination.

In addition to the medieval stirrups and a stereotypical representation of birth, there is no mention of why this lunchmeat may be OK other than, it has no preservatives.

Bad Hormel, bad.

Like I tell mommies-to-be: Listeria is prevalent, persistent in retail delis

Purdue University research shows that standard cleaning procedures in retail delis may not eradicate Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause a potentially fatal disease in people with vulnerable immune systems.

amy.pregnant.listeriaA study led by Haley Oliver, assistant professor of food science, found that 6.8 percent of samples taken in 15 delis before daily operation had begun tested positive for L. monocytogenes.

In a second sampling phase, 9.5 percent of samples taken in 30 delis during operation over six months tested positive for the bacteria. In 12 delis, the same subtypes of the bacteria cropped up in several of the monthly samplings, which could mean that L. monocytogenes can persist in growth niches over time.

“This is a public health challenge,” Oliver said. “These data suggest that failure to thoroughly execute cleaning and sanitation protocols is allowing L. monocytogenes to persist in some stores. We can’t in good conscience tell people with weak immune systems that it is safe to eat at the deli.”

In healthy individuals, eating food contaminated with L. monocytogenes may lead to common food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea or an upset stomach. But the bacteria can cause listeriosis – a serious systemic infection – in immunocompromised people such as the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women and people with HIV. In severe cases, L. monocytogenes can pass through the intestinal membrane and into the bloodstream or cross the blood-brain barrier. The bacteria can also cross the placental barrier in pregnant women, which can trigger abortion.

Ready-to-eat deli meats are the food most associated with L. monocytogenes, which can grow at refrigerator temperatures, unlike Salmonella and E. coli.

Stringent control measures and inspections have tamped down the presence of L. monocytogenes at meat processing plants, but there are no regulations specific to Listeria for retail delis. Recent risk assessments suggest that up to 83 percent of listeriosis cases linked to deli meats are attributable to products contaminated at retail.

oliver-listeria“It’s kind of the Wild West,” Oliver said. “Manufacturing has a zero-tolerance policy for Listeria, but that dissipates at the retail level. The challenge of developing systematic cleaning procedures for a wide variety of delis – which are less restricted environments than processing plants – can make Listeria harder to control.”

Consumers with vulnerable immune systems should buy prepackaged deli meats or heat ready-to-eat meats to 165 degrees, she said. Meat contaminated with L. monocytogenes will not show signs of spoilage, such as sliminess or odor.

The paper was published in the Journal of Food Protection. The abstract is available at

But what about listeria risks? FDA says fish consumption in large amount is the best food during pregnancy

Daughter 2-of-5 is pregnant with my second grandson (I’m old).

What I’ve found through all these pregnancies is the enormous amount of conflicting advice provided to the moms-to-be.

jaucelynn.pregnantIt’s stressful enough being pregnant (not that I would know) without having Dr.-this-that giving bogus advice.

The Westside Story (whatever that is) writes that conflicting research works have been done on the nutritional benefits of consuming large amounts of fish during pregnancy and after that. Some studies have shown that fish is among the best foods that a pregnant and breastfeeding mom needs to take for the benefit of her baby and her own. However, some other studies raised questions about fish consumption, citing that some fish could actually have an adverse impact on the brain development of a baby. According to the latest research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fish is good and eating large amounts of it is even better.

Good for brain development

What these stories lack is the potential Listeria risk in any refrigerated ready-to-eat foods like smoked salmon.

My kid’s got a biology degree and we’ve talked about this.

There’s a significant risk difference between refrigerated ready-to-eat foods and whole fish cooked to 145F as measured by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Unborn babies can get toxoplasmosis, listeriosis

ABS-CBN News in the Philippines reports Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in raw or undercooked meat, can latch on to pregnant moms and their unborn babies if ingested, potentially causing food poisoning, miscarriage or other complications to the unborn baby.

pregnant.fishAccording to microbiologist Dr. Windell Rivera, “Usually infected newborns would have problems sa mata, sa utak, mga damage talaga at birth (Usually, infected newborns would have eye or brain damages at birth).”

Toxoplasmosis is the disease caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Naturally thriving in a cat’s stomach, it can contaminate soil, water, or plant material once released via the animal’s feces. Animals that ingest the parasite can be infected. Humans may contract the parasite by consuming contaminated meat products.

According to the World Health Organization, toxoplasmosis is one of the five most commonly “neglected parasitic infections” as the parasite shows no symptoms in people with strong immunity. However, immunodeficient individuals may experience body aches, swollen lymph nodes, head ache, fever, or fatigue. Babies of pregnant mothers are usually the most potent victims as congenital toxoplasmosis can result to fetal death.

Experts, however, said that mothers who contracted the parasite before pregnancy could be safer as their bodies may have already developed immunity.

Treatment of the toxoplasmosis, in general, is also possible through medication, according to experts; however, completely removing all the parasites from the body may not be possible.

Beyond the Toxoplasma gondii, experts add that mother must also look out for the Listeria bacteria.

amy_pregnantRivera warned, “Ang listeria delikado. Twenty times at risk ang mga buntis. Pwedeng malaglag yung bata kung ma-food poison yung nanay. O kaya sakitin yung bata paglabas (Listeria is 20 times more harmful to pregnant mothers. Mothers may experience miscarriage if they contract food poisoning. If not, the baby may turn out to be sickly).”

The Listeria bacteria may be contracted from raw milk, vegetable salad, and processed meat such as hotdogs or luncheon meat. In general, people infected by the bacteria experience mild fever and are treated with antibiotics. However, experts say, people experiencing worse symptoms ought to receive medical attention.

To avoid further complications by parasites and bacteria, experts warn, prevention is key.


Got a risk assessment to back that up? UK nutritionist say soft-boiled eggs ‘now safe for pregnant women and babies’

This is not the advice of UK health types, but according to a new review published in the Journal of Health Visiting and cited in Parent Dish, nutritionist Dr Juliet Gray, said mothers may be unwittingly putting their children at greater risk of allergy by an avoidance strategy.

runny.boiled.eggShe said research suggests delayed introduction of potential food allergens, such as eggs, during weaning may actually be counterproductive.
In contrast the introduction of these foods while breastfeeding, between the ages of 4-7 months, could protect against developing allergies to these foods.

Dr Gray said two trials are being carried out to test whether the approach works and two government committees are also reviewing the current advice on infant feeding and food allergy.

She said “Eggs are highly nutritious, containing key nutrients including high quality protein, vitamin D, selenium, choline and omega-3 fatty acids, several of which are not found in many other foods.

“Our review concluded that mums and their babies can be encouraged to eat eggs, as this could have a positive effect in terms of nutritional intake and may also help immune tolerance of eggs.

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) said the launch of a strict code of practice 15 years ago has been so successful that salmonella has been ‘effectively eliminated’, with 90 per cent of British eggs now laid by salmonella-vaccinated hens.
Each egg is stamped with a lion mark and a best-before date on the shell.

NHS Choices still advises pregnant women to avoid eating soft-boiled eggs, or giving them to babies after weaning because of the salmonella risk.

And just a fraction of babies are given eggs at six months because of allergy concerns.

27 sickened including 11 pregnancies in two outbreaks of Listeria, Northern Spain 2013

In the province of Gipuzkoa, Spain (≈700,000 inhabitants), 7–12 episodes of human listeriosis were recorded annually during 2009–2012. However, during January 2013–February 2014, 27 episodes were detected, including 11 pregnancy-associated cases.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAll cases produced sepsis in the patients, except 1 case that produced diarrheal disease in a 34-year-old parturient woman who had undergone a splenectomy. Eleven episodes (40.7%) occurred in pregnant or parturient women, and 8 of the children of these patients were affected: 5 newborns (4 of them premature infants) became ill, 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage, and 1 infant was stillborn.

Fifteen cases in 2 epidemiologically unrelated outbreaks were caused by a rare type of Listeria monocytogenes, sequence type 87 serotype 1/2b. 

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Number 12—December 2014 [ahead of print]

Pérez-Trallero E, Zigorraga C, Artieda J, Alkorta M, Marimón JM

Listeria concerns on the rise for pregnant women?

Listeria has always been a concern, but according to a NBC news affiliate, it’s new.

amy.pregnant.listeriaAnd people wonder why mainstream journalism is dying.

“While normally this is a bacteria our bodies can fight off, for expecting women, it becomes more difficult because of a lowered immune system. Additionally, there is concern that the bacteria could be passed on to the fetus.”