Clostridium perfringens, one of the most common causes of food poisonings, can carry the enterotoxin gene, cpe, in its chromosome or on a plasmid. C. perfringens food poisonings are more frequently caused by the chromosomal cpe-carrying strains, while the plasmid-borne cpe-positive genotypes are more commonly found in the human feces and environmental samples. Different tolerance to food processing conditions by the plasmid-borne and chromosomal cpe-carrying strains has been reported, but the reservoirs and contamination routes of enterotoxin-producing C. perfringens remain unknown. A comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis with a DNA microarray based on three C. perfringens type A genomes was conducted to shed light on the epidemiology of C. perfringens food poisonings caused by plasmid-borne and chromosomal cpe-carrying strains by comparing chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-positive and cpe-negative C. perfringens isolates from human, animal, environmental, and food samples. The chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-positive C. perfringens genotypes formed two distinct clusters. Variable genes were involved with myo-inositol, ethanolamine and cellobiose metabolism, suggesting a new epidemiological model for C. perfringens food poisonings. The CGH results were complemented with growth studies, which demonstrated different myo-inositol, ethanolamine, and cellobiose metabolism between the chromosomal and plasmid-borne cpe-carrying strains. These findings support a ubiquitous occurrence of the plasmid-borne cpe-positive strains and their adaptation to the mammalian intestine, whereas the chromosomal cpe-positive strains appear to have a narrow niche in environments containing degrading plant material. Thus the epidemiology of the food poisonings caused by two populations appears different, the plasmid-borne cpe-positive strains probably contaminating foods via humans and the chromosomal strains being connected to plant material.
Listeria monocytogenes strains that were isolated from 314 human listeriosis cases in Finland during an 11-year period were analyzed by O:H serotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Serotyping divided the isolates into five serotypes, the most common being 1/2a (53%) and 4b (27%). During the study period, the number of cases caused by serotype 1/2a increased from 22% in 1990 to 67% in 2001, and those caused by serotype 4b decreased from 61 to 27%, respectively. PFGE with restriction enzyme AscI divided the strains into 81 PFGE genotypes; among strains of serotypes 1/2a and 4b, 49 and 18 PFGE types were seen, respectively. PFGE type 1 (serotype 1/2a) was the most prevalent single type (37 strains). Together with six other, closely related PFGE types, PFGE type 1 formed a group of 71 strains, representing 23% of all 314 strains. Strains of PFGE type 1 have also been isolated from cold smoked fish, suggesting a source of human infections caused by this type. Moreover, PFGE type 24 (serotype 1/2c) was significantly associated with gender: 5% of 180 male subjects but none of 132 female subjects (P = 0.012). An electronic database library was created from the PFGE profiles to make possible the prompt detection of new emerging profiles and the tracing of potential infection clusters in the future.
Pigs are the most important reservoir of Yersinia enterocolitica infections in humans. Knowledge of farm management practices that contribute to the transmission of this bacterial species in pigs is essential to understand how to control this foodborne pathogen in food production. The prevalence of Y. enterocolitica, and other results obtained from an age trend analysis were used to estimate the on-farm risk of transmission of specific management practices for this pathogen in 30 pig farms in Finland. Log-linear analysis revealed that rearing pigs in pens without or with sparse amounts of bedding and buying piglets from more than one farm were the variables that contribute most to the occurrence of Y. enterocolitica. The study also found that using an all-in/all-out management system and supplying water of municipal origin were factors that might reduce the prevalence of Y. enterocolitica, and therefore the risk of transmission of Y. enterocolitica in pig farms.
This article describes the Finnish meat-inspection curriculum and presents an expert-panel evaluation of meat-inspection education. The work tasks of the meat-inspection veterinarian are challenging and include classical meat inspection, meat hygiene, hygiene control, and animal disease and welfare. The meat-inspection veterinarian is not only an inspector, which by itself is very demanding, but also an expert or "consultant" on food safety. The significant role of the meat-inspection veterinarian in society puts high demands on meat-inspection education, which should provide veterinary students with sufficient tools to perform meat inspection and hygiene control in slaughterhouses, cutting premises, and further processing plants. To be of high quality, such education must be evaluated from time to time. An expert panel evaluated Finnish undergraduate meat-inspection education and found that it provides veterinary students with good knowledge of meat inspection. The structure of the curriculum, with theoretical studies followed by four weeks of practice in a slaughterhouse, was considered vital for learning and for creating interest in meat inspection. The evaluation also revealed that certain subjects should receive greater emphasis and some new subjects should be introduced. Hygiene-control tasks, in particular, have increased and should receive more emphasis in education. Personnel management and interaction skills should be introduced into the curriculum as these skills influence all the duties of the meat-inspection veterinarian. This article outlines the subjects to be included in the modern, high-quality meat-inspection curriculum recommended by the expert panel.
The molecular epidemiology of Listeria monocytogenes was investigated in a longitudinal study of three Finnish dairy farms during 2013 to 2016. A total of 186 bulk tank milk (BTM), 224 milk filter sock (MFS), and 1,702 barn environment samples were analyzed, and isolates of L. monocytogenes were genotyped using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. L. monocytogenes occurred throughout the year in all sample types, and the prevalence in MFS increased significantly during the indoor season. L. monocytogenes was more prevalent in MFS (29%) than in BTM (13%) samples. However, the prevalence of L. monocytogenes varied more between farms in samples of MFS (13 to 48%) than in BTM (10 to 16%). For each farm, the L. monocytogenes genotypes detected were classified by persistence (defined as persistent if isolated from =3 samples during =6 months) and predominance (defined as predominant if >5% prevalence on at least one farm visit). The prevalence of sporadic genotypes was 4 to 5% on all three farms. In contrast, the prevalence of persistent predominant genotypes varied between farms by 4% to 16%. The highest prevalence of persistent predominant genotypes was observed on the farm with the poorest production hygiene. Persistent predominant genotypes were most prevalent on feeding surfaces, water troughs, and floors. Genotypes isolated from the milking system or from cow udders had a greater relative risk of occurring in BTM and MFS than genotypes that only occurred elsewhere in the farm, supporting the hypothesis that L. monocytogenes is transmitted to milk from contamination on the udder surface or in the milking equipment.IMPORTANCEListeria monocytogenes is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium and the causative agent of a serious foodborne illness, listeriosis. Dairy products are common vehicles of listeriosis, and dairy cattle farms harbor L. monocytogenes genotypes associated with human listeriosis outbreaks. Indeed, dairy cattle farms act as a reservoir of L. monocytogenes, and the organism is frequently detected in bulk tank milk (BTM) and in the feces of clinically healthy cows. The ecology of L. monocytogenes in the farm environment is complex and poorly understood. Isolates of the same L. monocytogenes genotype can occur in the farm for years, but the factors contributing to the persistence of genotypes on dairy farms are unknown. Knowledge of the persistence patterns and contamination routes of L. monocytogenes on dairy farms can improve management of the contamination pressure in the farm environment and aid in the development of focused control strategies to reduce BTM contamination.
Whitefish eggs were confirmed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to cause type E foodborne botulism in a 54-year-old patient in Finland. Botulinum neurotoxin and/or nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum type E organisms were detected in fecal and gastric samples from the patient and in suspected whitefish eggs. Apart from C. botulinum type E, proteolytic type B organisms were detected in the patient's gastric content. This was considered to be insignificant with respect to the clinical disease, suggesting botulinal spores to be occasionally present in the human gastrointestinal tract without any apparent clinical significance. This is the first domestic case of foodborne botulism in Finland.
To review and develop the undergraduate veterinary curriculum on official control in veterinary public health, an electronic survey was sent to 204 Finnish veterinarians employed in the field of food hygiene in 2005. The response rate was 44%. Most frequently cited as strengths of the current curriculum were extensive education and good knowledge. Respondents considered the main challenges in their work to be a wide field of activity, organizational changes, financial resources, organization of substitutes, and collaboration with decision makers. Of the 23 items to be included in the undergraduate curriculum, therefore, respondents prioritized state and local decision making, the role of the public servant, and leadership and management in the area of social factors; in the field of practical control work, in-house control systems, organizations and responsibilities, control techniques, and planning and targeting of controls were prioritized. Of areas traditionally covered in the undergraduate curriculum, legislation; legal proceedings and implications of controls; risks to human, animal, and plant health; and hazards in feed, animal, and food production were stated to be the most important. Although respondents were generally content with their career choice, veterinary public health tasks were not their first choice of career path immediately after graduation. Based on these findings, more attention should be focused on social aspects and practical training in official control in the undergraduate veterinary curriculum. The survey results also highlight the contrasts between society's needs and veterinarians' motivations and career-path expectations, which pose a significant challenge for future curricula.
Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O : 3 is the most frequent cause of sporadic human yersiniosis in Finland and Germany. To investigate the possible link between pigs and humans, 282 human and 534 porcine strains from Finland and Germany were characterized with PFGE using NotI, ApaI and XhoI enzymes. Most of the human strains (>80 %) were indistinguishable from the porcine strains in both countries and most of the genotypes (178/182) were different in Finland and Germany. The indistinguishable genotypes among human and porcine strains together with different genotypes in Finland and Germany indicate that pigs are an important source of sporadic yersiniosis in both countries.
The vehicles and sources of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection are unknown. In Finland, clinical microbiology laboratories routinely report Y. pseudotuberculosis isolations and submit isolates for serotype analysis. In October 1998, the number of serotype O:3 infections increased markedly.
Case patients with culture-confirmed Y. pseudotuberculosis O:3 infection were identified by use of laboratory-based surveillance. We conducted a population-based case-control study. Healthy community control subjects were matched by age, sex, and postal code. Isolates were subtyped by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Nationwide, 47 case patients were identified (age range, 2-77 years; median, 19 years). One patient with bacteremia died; 5 underwent appendectomies. We enrolled 38 case patients and 76 control subjects in the case-control study. Seventy-one percent of case patients and 42% of control subjects reported having eaten iceberg lettuce (matched odds ratio, 3.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-9.4); a dose-response relationship was found for increasing frequency of consumption. Of the 27 isolates obtained from case patients and tested in the analysis, all had indistinguishable PFGE patterns. Four lunch cafeterias that had served iceberg lettuce were associated with clusters of case patients. The lettuce was traced back to originating farms.
Iceberg lettuce was implicated as the vehicle of a widespread foodborne Y. pseudotuberculosis outbreak. Ongoing laboratory-based surveillance and serotype analysis were essential in the rapid detection of infection. Cases of yersiniosis, which appear to be sporadic, may be part of unrecognized outbreaks caused by contaminated fresh produce.
Comment In: J Infect Dis. 2004 Mar 1;189(5):761-314976590