Listeriosis is a disease that causes significant economic losses at the farm level because of high morbidity and mortality in ruminants. This study was performed to investigate the role of ruminants in the epidemiology of listeriosis in northern Italy and the possible association of animal-adapted strains of Listeria monocytogenes with strains associated with human disease. Twenty ruminant rhombencephalitis isolates previously confirmed as L. monocytogenes by bacteriology and PCR were characterized by serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, multi-virulence-locus sequence typing (MVLST), and multiplex single nucleotide polymorphism (mSNP) typing for the detection of epidemic clones. Subtyping results were subsequently compared with those obtained from human, food, and environmental isolates of L. monocytogenes, including 311 isolates from the University of Turin, Grugliasco, Italy, and 165 isolates representing major human listeriosis outbreaks worldwide, in addition to other unrelated isolates. Both mSNP typing and MVLST showed that 60% of the isolates analyzed belonged to epidemic clone I (ECI), which has been epidemiologically linked to several human outbreaks of listeriosis. In particular, the 1981 Canada outbreak was linked to the use of sheep manure and the 1985 California outbreak was linked to the use of raw cow's milk. In our study, ECI isolates were collected from different ruminant species on geographically and temporally distinct occasions for the last 13 years. Our results support the hypothesis that ruminants represent possible natural reservoirs of L. monocytogenes strains capable of causing epidemics of listeriosis in humans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology