April 26, 2006
Tenerife News
Listeria Monocytogenes is one of the deadliest food-borne bacteria, with a fatality rate of 20%. Listeria enters the body when a person eats contaminated food and it binds, or adheres, to intestinal cells. If it is a viable, it will penetrate the cell wall, causing infection. Once the bacteria have done this, the infected cells will move, or translocate, to another organ, usually the spleen or liver. For individuals with weakened immune systems, listeriosis can be fatal.
The factors that determine if a person becomes ill and the degree of illness include the levels at which the pathogen attaches to intestinal cells, penetrates cell walls and then moves into other organs.
Fortunately, French scientists have learned how Listeria Monocytogenes invades cells by activating cellular machinery that transports viruses, small molecules, and proteins. Once it has safely entered a cell, it hides from the body’s immune system and it can replicate and continue the process of infection. They believe that other infectious organisms may use the same mechanism. This is an important discovery for stopping this serious disease in the future.