Public health authorities place a high priority on investigating listeriosis outbreaks, and these epidemiological investigations remain challenging. Some approaches have been described in the literature to address these challenges. This review of listeriosis clusters and outbreaks investigated in the Province of Quebec (Quebec) highlights investigative approaches that contributed to identifying the source of these outbreaks.
The Laboratoire de Santé Publique du Québec (LSPQ) implemented pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) molecular subtyping in 1997 to identify Listeria monocytogenes clusters among isolates from invasive listeriosis cases identified throughout Quebec. A cluster was defined as three cases or more with the same or similar PFGE profiles (=3 band difference) occurring over a 4-month period. An investigation was initiated if the epidemiologic indicators suggested a common source. Listeriosis data from LSPQ's database were reviewed to identify and describe clusters detected from 1997 to 2011, including those that led to an outbreak investigation. Epidemiological reports prepared following each outbreak were also reviewed.
Eleven clusters were identified in the province by LSPQ between 1997 and 2011. Outbreak investigations were initiated for six clusters, four of which involved more than 10 cases. Factors that contributed to identifying the source for three of these outbreaks highlighted the value of (1) making all stakeholders (food safety and inspection services, public health authorities, and laboratories) aware of any ongoing investigation and sharing relevant information even if the source is not yet identified; (2) promptly collecting food samples identified and considered as possible vehicles of infection identified during the interview of a Listeria case; (3) collecting food items and/or environmental samples in locations reported in common by cases in the same cluster.
Multiple approaches should be considered when investigating L. monocytogenes clusters. Networks to facilitate continuous exchange of human and food data between public health and food safety partners should be encouraged.
An outbreak of febrile gastroenteritis affected consumers of on-farm manufactured dairy products from a summer farm in Sweden. Symptoms included diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting in 88, 60, 54 and 21% of cases identified. The median incubation period was 31 h. A cohort study with 33 consumers showed an attack rate of 52% and an association between the total amount of product eaten and illness (P=0.07). Twenty-seven of 32 (84%) stool samples cultured for Listeria monocytogenes tested positive, although there was no association between clinical disease and the isolation of L. monocytogenes. In addition, gene sequences for VTEC and ETEC were detected in 6 and 1 subjects, respectively. Bacteriological analysis of cheese samples revealed heavy contamination with L. monocytogenes and coagulase positive staphylococci in all of them and gene markers for VTEC in one of them. Molecular profiles for L. monocytogenes isolated from dairy products, stool samples and an abscess from 1 patient who developed septic arthritis were identical. Results of both microbiological and epidemiological analyses point to L. monocytogenes as the most likely cause of this outbreak. The finding of markers for VTEC in some humans and cheese samples means that a mixed aetiology at least in some cases cannot be conclusively ruled out.
Isolates of Listeria monocytogenes (n = 932) isolated in Sweden during 1958-2010 from human patients with invasive listeriosis were characterized by serotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) (AscI). Of the 932 isolates, 183 different PFGE types were identified, of which 83 were each represented by only one isolate. In all, 483 serovar 1/2a isolates were distributed over 114 PFGE types; 90 serovar 1/2b isolates gave 32 PFGE types; 21 serovar 1/2c isolates gave nine PFGE types; three serovar 3b isolates gave one PFGE type; and, 335 serovar 4b isolates gave 31 PFGE types. During the 1980s in Sweden, several serovar 4b cases were associated with the consumption of European raw soft cheese. However, as cheese-production hygiene has improved, the number of 4b cases has decreased. Since 1996, serovar 1/2a has been the dominant L. monocytogenes serovar in human listeriosis in Sweden. Therefore, based on current serovars and PFGE types, an association between human cases of listeriosis and the consumption of vacuum-packed gravad and cold-smoked salmon is suggested.
Since its first isolation by Murray in 1926 Listeria monocytogenes has become recognized as a significant pathogen occurring worldwide and involving a wide range of wild and domestic animals including man. The first confirmed human listeriosis case in Canada was published by Stoot in 1951. A later survey based on records maintained at the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa showed 101 cases detected over a 21 year period in nine provinces. The overall mortality was 30%. The most frequently isolated serotype was 4b followed by 1 and 1b. Prior to the Nova Scotia epidemic (41 cases) of 1981, fewer than 15 cases per annum had been diagnosed based on hospital discharge records. The Nova Scotia epidemic was unique in that the source and mode of transmission of the organism were determined. Sixty-three strains isolated from this outbreak were typed, and with the exception of one 1a strain, were identified as 4b. These were subsequently classified mainly as phage type 00 042 0000 and 00 002 0000. Listeriosis appears to be a common infection in the animal population in Canada primarily in cattle, sheep, chinchillas, chickens and goats. Outbreaks have been described in rabbits, goats, and chinchillas. Chinchilla farms were affected in one outbreak (serotype 1) in Nova Scotia which was attributed to feeding a new batch of meal containing beet pulp. Many aspects of the epidemiology of listeriosis are obscure. A cycle involving contaminated soil and consumption of raw vegetables has been confirmed as the cause of the Nova Scotia epidemic and could explain a proportion of the sporadic cases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Between 1951 and January 1972 listeriosis was diagnosed bacteriologically in 101 Canadian patients. This study adds 80 cases to the 21 reported from Metropolitan Toronto by Sepp and Roy in 1963. The Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa, collated epidemiological and clinical data. Serotypes of Listeria monocytogenes included 4b (53), 1 (15), 1b (6), 1a (2), 2 and 3. Clinically, 54 patients had meningitis and 23 septicemia. The mortality rate was 30%.Between 1954 and January 1972 listeriosis affected 15 British Columbian patients: nine were male and six female; 12 were less than 1 or more than 45 years old. Among the patients were a pregnant mother and the son to whom she gave premature birth. A day-old infant and an elderly man died.
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.
The purpose of our study was to review all cases of listeriosis in Iceland during the period 1978-2000 and to analyse the genetic relatedness of their isolates. Case records of all patients in Iceland with listeriosis during the period were reviewed and the isolates compared using serotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) using SmaI, AseI and ApaI restriction enzymes. Forty cases of listeriosis were diagnosed during the period, resulting in a mean annual incidence of 6.9 cases per million and a case fatality rate of 33%. In the first 5 y of the study only serotype 4b was observed; subsequently serotypes 1/2a and 1/2b appeared and serotype 4b declined in prevalence. PFGE yielded 24 different genotypes with 7 clusters of indistinguishable genotypes, each comprising 2-6 cases. During 1992-95 the annual incidence of listeriosis in Iceland rose to 15 cases per million. This was largely due to 2 clusters, 1 of 3 cases and the other of 6. No cases of listeriosis were diagnosed during 1998-2000. Our data show an increased number of cases within clusters in the latter half of the period. At the same time, food processing and distribution has become increasingly centralized in Iceland, suggesting an increased risk of listeriosis outbreaks.
Febrile gastroenteritis in five healthy persons was associated with the consumption of vacuum-packed cold-smoked rainbow trout containing Listeria monocytogenes. L. monocytogenes isolates from the incriminated fish product lot and the stool samples were all of serotype 1/2a and were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis employing AscI and SmaI.
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Canadian cases and outbreaks of illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes between 1995 and 2004 were assessed. Isolates (722 total) were characterized by serotyping, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was performed to provide a means of detecting case clusters. Rates of listeriosis remained fairly consistent during the period of study, and patient characteristics were similar to those seen in studies of other populations. Most isolates were obtained from blood and cerebrospinal fluid, although during some outbreak investigations isolates were also obtained from stools. Serotype 1/2a predominated in isolates from patients in Canada, followed by serotypes 4b and 1/2b. Outbreaks caused by L. monocytogenes that occurred during the period of study were caused by isolates with serotypes 1/2a and 4b. A retrospective analysis of PFGE data uncovered several clusters that might have represented undetected outbreaks, suggesting that comprehensive prospective PFGE analysis coupled with prompt epidemiological investigations might lead to improved outbreak detection and control.