Investigation of clonal distribution and persistence of Salmonella Senftenberg in the marine environment and identification of potential sources of contamination


  • Jaime Martinez-Urtaza,

    Corresponding author
    1. Instituto de Acuicultura, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Campus Universitario Sur, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
      *Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 981 528024/563100x16043; fax: +34 981 547165.
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  • Ernesto Liebana

    1. Department of Food and Environmental Safety, Veterinary Laboratories Agency-Weybridge, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
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*Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 981 528024/563100x16043; fax: +34 981 547165.


Salmonella Senftenberg was detected in the coastal areas of Galicia (NW Spain) in 1998, where it remained the predominant serovar for the next four years. Although the overall incidence of this serovar in the zone was lower than 1%, contamination by Salmonella serovar Senftenberg was located in very specific areas of the Ría de Arousa, where it persisted for more than five years. A total of 60 Salmonella serovar Senftenberg isolates, originating from surveillance activities in marine environments, was subjected to molecular characterization by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE analysis of the marine isolates allowed the differentiation of three main PFGE types, which contained the majority of the isolates, each type showing a specific spatial distribution in the coastal waters. The most prevalent pulse types persisted for more than four years, emphasizing their capacity to adapt and survive in marine environments. Using PFGE analysis, marine isolates were compared with Salmonella serovar Senftenberg isolates from neighbouring mussel-processing facilities and to other epidemiologically unrelated isolates from human, animal and feed sources. Comparison of the restriction patterns showed that indistinguishable PFGE types were present in the isolates from mussel-processing facilities and their surrounding marine areas, suggesting that the mussel processing is the main source for contamination with Salmonella Senftenberg in these marine environments. A molecular fingerprinting relationship was established between three shellfish isolates and a human isolate, which could be considered as preliminary evidence of infection caused by Salmonella Senftenberg associated with molluscan consumption.