Open Access Research article

Emergence of sporadic non-clustered cases of hospital-associated listeriosis among immunocompromised adults in southern Taiwan from 1992 to 2013: effect of precipitating immunosuppressive agents

Chun-Yuan Lee1, Hung-Chin Tsai12, Calvin M Kunin3, Susan Shin-Jung Lee12, Kuan-Sheng Wu12 and Yao-Shen Chen124*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, 386 Ta-Chung 1st Rd., Kaohsiung 813, Taiwan

2 Faculty of Medicine, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Department of Internal Medicine (CMK), Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio and the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

4 Graduate Institute of Science Education and Environmental Education, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:145  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-145

Published: 19 March 2014



Sporadic non-clustered hospital-associated listeriosis is an emerging infectious disease in immunocompromised hosts. The current study was designed to determine the impact of long-term and precipitating immunosuppressive agents and underlying diseases on triggering the expression of the disease, and to compare the clinical features and outcome of hospital-associated and community-associated listeriosis.


We reviewed the medical records of all patients with Listeria monocytogenes isolated from sterile body sites at a large medical center in southern Taiwan during 1992–2013. Non-clustered cases were defined as those unrelated to any other in time or place. Multivariable regression analysis was used to determine factors associated with prognosis.


Thirty-five non-clustered cases of listeriosis were identified. Twelve (34.2%) were hospital-associated, and 23 (65.7%) were community-associated. The 60-day mortality was significantly greater in hospital-associated than in community-associated cases (66.7% vs. 17.4%, p = 0.007). Significantly more hospital-associated than community-associated cases were treated with a precipitating immunosuppressive agent within 4 weeks prior to onset of listeriosis (91.7% vs. 4.3%, respectively p < 0.001). The median period from the start of precipitating immunosuppressive treatment to the onset of listeriosis-related symptoms was 12 days (range, 4–27 days) in 11 of the 12 hospital-associated cases. In the multivariable analysis, APACHE II score >21 (p = 0.04) and receipt of precipitating immunosuppressive therapy (p = 0.02) were independent risk factors for 60-day mortality.


Sporadic non-clustered hospital-associated listeriosis needs to be considered in the differential diagnosis of sepsis in immunocompromised patients, particularly in those treated with new or increased doses of immunosuppressive agents.

Immunocompromised host; Listeria monocytogenes; Hospital-associated infection