Listeria monocytogenes Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS)
|Agent Type||Risk Group||Biosafety Level||Animal Housing Biosafety Level|
Risk Group: RG-2 associated with human disease, rarely serious; preventive, or therapeutic interventions often available.
Agent Type: Bacteria
Description: Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive, pathogenic bacterium, in the division Firmicutes. Infection with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis. People usually become ill with listeriosis after eating contaminated food. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It is rare for people in other groups to get sick with Listeria infection. Listeriosis is usually a mild illness for pregnant women, but it causes severe disease in the fetus or newborn baby. Adults 65 years and older and people with weakened immune systems most commonly develop severe infections of the bloodstream (causing sepsis) or brain (causing meningitis or encephalitis). Listeria infections can sometimes affect other parts of the body, includiing bones, joints, and sites in the chest and abdomen.
Host Range: Humans, mammals, fish, crustaceans, insects Host Shedding: Direct contact, feces
Route of Exposure to Humans: Direct contact, Vertical transmission, Ingestion, Percutaneous
Infectious Dose: Healthy hosts: 10-100 million CFU; Immunocompromised: 0.1 to 100 million CFU
Incubation Period: Ranges from 3-70 days; median incubation period is 21 days.
Signs and symptoms of infection may include:
- Flu-like symptoms (i.e. fever, headache, dehydration, weight loss, lethargy)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
- Reproductive Health concerns (i.e. abortion, fetal abnormalities)
Immunizations: None available Prophylaxis*: Available
*Formal medical advice is obtained during medical consultations with Cornell Health or primary healthcare provider as needed.
|Survival Outside Host||Disinfection|
Able to survive outside of hosts (water, soil, food,
1:10 bleach Dilution
Inactivated by moist heat (15 minutes at
For more guidance on disinfection see: disinfectant selection.
- Equipment contamination
- Exposed skin/uncovered wounds
- Handling of sharps (needles, scalpels, microtome blades, broken glass, etc.)
- Splash/droplet-creating activities (shaking incubators, liquid culturing, mechanical pipetting)
Laboratory Acquired Infection (LAI) History: Some suspected cases, none of which have been confirmed. Pregnant women should take special caution to avoid contact with infected material.
Laboratory Handling Guidelines
Laboratory Biosafety Level (BSL): BSL-2
|Lab Engineering Controls||Personal Protective Equipment|
Waste Management: Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)
Shipping Guidance: Refer to EHS Biological Materials Shipping
Animal Vivarium Guidance
Animal Housing Biosafety Level (ABSL): ABSL-2
Animal Biosecurity: Experimental animals are housed separately
Exposure and Spill Procedures
Mucous Membranes: Flush eyes, mouth, or nose for 15 minutes at an eyewash station. See: responding to exposures.
Other Exposures: Wash with soap and water for 15 minutes (open wounds, sores, etc.) or a minimum of 20 seconds for areas with intact skin. See: responding to exposures.
Small Spills: Notify others working in the lab. Evacuate area and allow 30 minutes for aerosols to settle. Don appropriate PPE. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply disinfectant, working from the perimeter toward the center. Allow 30 minutes of contact time before disposal and cleanup of spill materials. See: spill cleanup
Large Spills: Request assistance from the EHS Spill Team by calling CUPD dispatch. Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone.
Incident Reporting: Immediately report the incident to supervisor and complete the EHS online injury/illness report as soon as possible.
- For students, seek medical attention at Cornell Health or local primary care provider. Call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24-hour phone consultation line) or a local urgent care.
- For faculty and staff, seek medical evaluation with a local primary care provider or urgent care. Cornell Health does not see employees for post-exposure care.
- Emergencies: Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone.
- Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS). Emory University.
- Best M, Kennedy ME, Coates F. Efficacy of a variety of disinfectants against Listeria spp. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 1990;56(2):377-380.
- Listeria (Listeriosis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Listeria monocytogenes. Pathogen Safety Data Sheet. Public Health Agency of Canada.
- Risk Group Database. American Biological Safety Association.