An outbreak of listeriosis in Sweden, consisting of nine cases, was investigated by means of molecular typing of strains from patients and strains isolated from suspected foodstuffs, together with interviews of the patients. Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from six of the patients, and all isolates were of the same clonal type. This clonal type was also isolated from a "gravad" rainbow trout, made by producer Y, found in the refrigerator of one of the patients. Unopened packages obtained from producer Y were also found to contain the same clonal type of L. monocytogenes. Based on the interview results and the bacteriological typing, we suspect that at least six of the nine cases were caused by gravad or cold-smoked rainbow trout made by producer Y. To our knowledge, this is the first rainbow trout-borne outbreak of listeriosis ever reported.
Consumption of packaged fresh leafy vegetables, which are convenient ready-to-eat products, has increased during the last decade. The number of foodborne outbreaks associated with these products has concurrently increased. In our study, (1) label information, (2) O2/CO2 composition, (3) bacterial quality and (4) safety of 100 fresh leafy vegetables at the retail level were studied in Finland during 2013. Bacterial quality was studied using aerobic bacteria (AB) and coliform bacteria (CB) counts, and searching for the presence of Escherichia coli, Listeria and Yersinia. The safety was studied by the presence of Salmonella, ail-positive Yersinia, stx-positive E. coli (STEC) and Listeria monocytogenes using PCR and culturing. Important label information was unavailable on several packages originating from different companies. The packaging date was missing on all packages and the date of durability on 83% of the packages. Storage temperature was declared on 62% of the packages and 73% of the packages contained information about prewashing. The batch/lot number was missing on 29% of the packages. Very low oxygen (O2) (
Serious infection with the bacterium L. monocytogenes mainly manifests as sepsis and/or meningitis. A particular entity is Listeria brain stem encephalitis, which is characterized by progressive brain stem deficits. The condition is fatal unless early treated. The purpose of the present study was to assess the incidence of brain stem encephalitis in a population-based listeriosis material. Medical records from 212 of the 240 patients with serious listeriosis reported in Norway from 1977 to 2000, as well as autopsy material from 8 of these patients, were available. This material was searched for clinical and neuropathological evidence of brain stem infection. Findings indicating brain stem encephalitis were present in 19 of the 172 patients with adult listeriosis (11%) but none of the 40 pregnancy-related listeriosis cases. None of the 19 patients had been diagnosed with Listeria brain stem infection originally. We conclude that brain stem encephalitis is relatively common in this Norwegian listeriosis material.
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.
Minimally processed spinach has been recently associated with outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. This study investigated the effect of commercial minimal processing of spinach on the coliform and Escherichia coli counts and the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes on two types of spinach before and after minimal processing. A total of 1,356 spinach samples (baby spinach, n = 574; savoy spinach, n = 782) were collected daily in two processing plants over a period of 14 months. Raw spinach originated from nine farms in the United States and three farms in Canada. Overall, the proportion of samples positive for coliforms increased from 53% before minimal processing to 79% after minimal processing (P 0.1) was observed. E. coli O157:H7 and Shigella spp. were not isolated from any of the samples. Salmonella and L. monocytogenes were isolated from 0.4 and 0.7% of samples, respectively. Results demonstrate that commercial minimal processing of spinach based on monitored chlorine washing and drying may not decrease microbial load on spinach leaves as expected. Further research is needed to identify the most appropriate measures to control food safety risk under commercial minimal processing of fresh vegetables.
To investigate the bacteriological quality, and the occurrence of selected pathogenic bacteria from organically grown Iceberg lettuce fertilized with bovine manure in the form of compost, firm manure and slurry in a 2-year field trial.
Samples of soil, fertilizer, fertilized soil, seedlings and lettuce were analysed for aerobic plate counts (APC), thermotolerant coliform bacteria (TCB), Escherichia coli, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes. No difference in bacteriological quality could be shown in lettuce at harvest, however, APC varied significantly from year to year in the study. The various treatments gave significantly different APC and numbers of TCB isolated from fertilized soil. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was isolated from firm manure and slurry, and soils fertilized with the respective fertilizers the second year, but were not recovered from the lettuce.
No difference in bacteriological quality could be detected in lettuce at harvest after application of various types of manure-based fertilizers grown under Norwegian conditions.
The results may indicate that the use of manure does not have considerable influence on the bacteriological quality of organic lettuce. However, others have suggested that there is a risk by using manure. There is a need for more research in the field.
Two hundred seventy-nine cases of human listeriosis (92 pregnancy-related cases and 187 non-pregnancy-related cases) caused by a serovar 4b and phagovar 2389:2425:3274:2671:47:108:340 strain were identified in France between March and December 1992. Epidemiological investigations included a case-control study (not described here) and microbiological analyses of foods. Results of the case-control study and characterization of food isolates identified pork tongue in jelly, a ready-to-eat meat product, as the major vehicle of this outbreak, and to a lesser extent, delicatessen products contaminated secondarily during handling in food stores. As far as serotyping, phage typing, DNA macrorestriction pattern analysis (obtained by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE]), and ribotyping are concerned, this epidemic strain is phenotypically and genomically closely related to strains responsible for major outbreaks of listeriosis previously observed in Europe and North America. The epidemic strain sensu stricto as defined by PFGE (2/1/3) displayed the same serovar, phagovar, ribovar, and ApaI and NotI PFGE patterns as the epidemic strains from outbreaks in Switzerland, California, and Denmark, but it consistently showed differences in the SmaI PFGE profile. This information greatly contributed to the identification of the major food vehicle (pork tongue in jelly) and further allowed exclusion of other foods (cheese) as possible sources of this major listeriosis epidemic.
The first lesson learned from this outbreak was that vacuum-packed rainbow trout is not only an excellent medium for the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, but may also cause human listeriosis. Another lesson is that one single fish processing plant may spread multiple clonal types of L. monocytogenes by selling contaminated products to consumers. Thus, when investigating fish-borne outbreaks of listeriosis one should identify and type several isolates of L. monocytogenes from each food and environmental sample, since multiple clonal types might be present. The outbreak described in this paper involved at least eight human cases, three clonal types of L. monocytogenes, and lasted for 11 months. During the outbreak investigation, L. monocytogenes was also isolated from another brand of rainbow trout found in the refrigerator of one of the patients. These latter isolates belonged to a clonal type not associated with the outbreak. However, this clonal type is of considerable interest since it has been associated with foodborne outbreaks of listeriosis in several countries, and is also the second most common clonal type among human clinical isolates of L. monocytogenes in Sweden. Besides the described outbreak, it is likely that vacuum-packed, cold-smoked and gravad rainbow trout have been involved in additional cases of foodborne listeriosis in Sweden.