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Keywords:

  • Listeria monocytogenes;
  • Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis;
  • PulseNet database;
  • Serotyping

Abstract

Twenty-one isolates of Listeria monocytogenes from food animal clinical cases that involved meningitis or meningoencephalitis, encephalitis, mastitis and abortion were characterized by serotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) in order to improve our understanding of the genetic links between individual strains and strains recovered from human listeriosis cases. Results showed that five of the isolates were serotype 1/2a, six were 1/2b, nine were 4b, and one was untypeable. A caprine, two bovine and an ovine brain isolate shared identical PFGE patterns indicating that strains of L. monocytogenes are not host specific. Other isolates exhibited distinct patterns that were not shared, indicating a genetic diversity. Dendrogram analysis revealed that PFGE patterns of the isolates clustered primarily according to serotype. We compared the PFGE types obtained for these isolates with PFGE types for human clinical isolates present in the CDC national PulseNet database. Six (29%) of the twenty-one strains had patterns that were indistinguishable from pathogenic human isolates in the database. Our observations offer preliminary evidence that food animals could be significant reservoirs of L. monocytogenes that lead to human infections and support the inclusion of PFGE patterns of veterinary clinical isolates in the national PulseNet database for increased surveillance.