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Concept: Listeriosis


Listeria monocytogenes infection is most commonly recognized in ruminants, including cattle, sheep, and goats; but it is rarely diagnosed in poultry. This report describes an outbreak of L. monocytogenes in a backyard poultry flock. Also, it points out the importance of collaboration between veterinarians and public health departments and the possible implications of zoonotic diseases.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis, Livestock, Goat, Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, Herbivorous animals


A 2014 multistate listeriosis outbreak was linked to consumption of caramel-coated apples, an unexpected and previously unreported vehicle for Listeria monocytogenes. This outbreak was unanticipated because both the pH of apples (<4.0) and the water activity of the caramel coating (<0.80) are too low to support Listeria growth. In this study, Granny Smith apples were inoculated with approximately 4 log10 CFU of L. monocytogenes (a cocktail of serotype 4b strains associated with the outbreak) on each apple's skin, stem, and calyx. Half of the apples had sticks inserted into the core, while the remaining apples were left intact. Apples were dipped into hot caramel and stored at either 7°C or 25°C for up to 11 or 28 days, respectively. Data revealed that apples with inserted sticks supported significantly more L. monocytogenes growth than apples without sticks under both storage conditions. Within 3 days at 25°C, L. monocytogenes populations increased >3 log10 in apples with sticks, whereas only a 1-log10 increase was observed even after 1 week for caramel-coated apples without sticks. When stored at 7°C, apples with sticks exhibited an approximately 1.5-log10 increase in L. monocytogenes levels at 28 days, whereas no growth was observed in apples without sticks. We infer that insertion of a stick into the apple accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature.

Concepts: Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis, Apple, Granny Smith, Apple Records, Eastwood, New South Wales


The food-borne pathogen Listeria (L) monocytogenes is able to survive a variety of stress conditions leading to the colonization of different niches like the food processing environment. This study focuses on the hypervariable genetic hotspot lmo0443-lmo0449 haboring three inserts: the stress survival islet 1 (SSI-1), the single-gene insert LMOf2365_0481 and two homologous genes of the non-pathogenic species L. innocua: lin0464, a putative transcriptional regulator and lin0465, an intracellular PfpI protease. Our prevalence study revealed a different distribution of the inserts between human and food-associated isolates. The lin0464-lin0465 insert was predominantly found in food-associated strains of sequence type (ST) 121. Functional characterization of this insert showed that the putative PfpI protease Lin0465 is involved in alkaline and oxidative stress response, but not in acidic, gastric, heat, cold, osmotic and antibiotic stress. In parallel, deletion of lin0464 decreased the survival under alkaline and oxidative stress. The expression of both genes increased significantly under oxidative stress conditions independently of the alternative sigma factor σ(B) Furthermore, we showed that the expression of the protease lin0465 is regulated by the transcription factor lin0464 under stress conditions, suggesting that lin0464 and lin0465 form a functional unit.In conclusion, we identified a novel stress survival islet 2 (SSI-2), predominantly present in L. monocytogenes ST121 strains, beneficial for survival under alkaline and oxidative stress, potentially supporting adaptation and persistence of L. monocytogenes in food processing environments.IMPORTANCEListeria (L.) monocytogenes strains of ST121 are known to persist for months and even years in food processing environments, thereby increasing the risk of food contamination and listeriosis. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this remarkable niche-specific adaptation is still unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the genomic islet SSI-2, predominantly present in L. monocytogenes ST121 strains, is beneficial for survival under alkaline and oxidative stress conditions, which are routinely encountered in food processing environments. Our findings suggest that SSI-2 is part of a diverse set of molecular determinants contributing to niche-specific adaptation and persistence of L. monocytogenes ST121 strains in food processing environments.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Transcription, Oxidative stress, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis


PURPOSE: To study the incidence and clinical characteristics of delayed cerebral thrombosis in bacterial meningitis patients. METHODS: We assessed the incidence and clinical characteristics of delayed cerebral thrombosis in adults with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture-proven community-acquired bacterial meningitis included in a prospective nationwide study in The Netherlands performed from 2006 to 2012. RESULTS: Delayed cerebral thrombosis occurred in 11 of 1,032 episodes (1.1 %). CSF culture yielded Streptococcus pneumoniae in ten patients and Listeria monocytogenes in one. Adjunctive dexamethasone therapy was administered before or with the first dose of antibiotics in 9 of 11 patients; two patients were initially not treated with dexamethasone. All patients made good initial recovery, followed by sudden deterioration after 7-42 days. Cranial imaging studies showed multiple cerebral infarctions in all patients. The outcome was unfavorable in all but one patient. In an explorative analysis, patients with delayed cerebral thrombosis had eightfold higher complement C5a CSF concentrations on the diagnostic lumbar puncture as compared in those without delayed cerebral thrombosis (p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: Delayed cerebral thrombosis is a rare but devastating complication of bacterial meningitis. Adjunctive dexamethasone therapy seems to predispose patients with bacterial meningitis to this complication. We found some evidence that this thrombotic complication is associated with activation of the complement system.

Concepts: Bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Cerebrospinal fluid, Meningitis, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeriosis, Tuberculous meningitis, Lumbar puncture


Listeria monocytogenes is a major foodborne pathogen that causes life-threatening illnesses in humans. With emergence of antibiotic resistance in L. monocytogenes, there is considerable interest in testing the efficacy of alternative therapies for controlling listeriosis in humans. This study investigated the efficacy of three phytochemicals, namely trans-cinnamaldehyde (TC), carvacrol (CR), and thymol (TY) in reducing L. monocytogenes virulence in the recently established invertebrate model, Galleria mellonella. In addition, the effect of phytochemicals on the transcription of antimicrobial peptide genes in G. mellonella (responsible for host defense) was investigated using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. G. mellonella larvae were inoculated with L. monocytogenes (10(5) CFU/larvae) either with or without the subinhibitory concentration (chemical concentration not inhibiting bacterial growth) of phytochemicals. The larvae were incubated at 37 °C for 5 days, and their mortality was scored at 24-h intervals. The transcriptional response of the defense genes was studied in inoculated and uninoculated larvae at 6 h post challenge. The experiments were repeated at least six times with replicates. All phytochemicals enhanced the survival rates of G. mellonella infected with lethal doses of L. monocytogenes (P < 0.05). CR and TC at 0.01 % concentration were found to be the most effective treatments, and increased larval survival rates by 80 % and 50 %, respectively, on day 5 (P < 0.05). The phytochemicals also upregulated the expression of antimicrobial peptide genes in G. mellonella larvae challenged with L. monocytogenes (P < 0.05). Results suggest that TC, CR, and TY could potentially be used to control listeriosis. Further investigation in an appropriate mammalian model is warranted.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Microbiology, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis


Controlling the food-borne pathogen Listeria (L.) monocytogenes is of great importance from a food safety perspective, and thus for human health. The consequences of failures in this regard have been exemplified by recent large listeriosis outbreaks in the USA and Europe. It is thus particularly notable that tolerance to quaternary ammonium compounds such as benzalkonium chloride (BC) has been observed in many L. monocytogenes strains. However, the molecular determinants and mechanisms of BC tolerance of L. monocytogenes are still largely unknown. Here we describe Tn6188, a novel transposon in L. monocytogenes conferring tolerance to BC. Tn6188 is related to Tn554 from Staphylococcus (S.) aureus and other Tn554-like transposons such as Tn558, Tn559 and Tn5406 found in various Firmicutes. Tn6188 comprises 5117 bp, is integrated chromosomally within the radC gene and consists of three transposase genes (tnpABC) as well as genes encoding a putative transcriptional regulator and QacH, a small multidrug resistance protein family (SMR) transporter putatively associated with export of BC that shows high amino acid identity to Smr/QacC from S. aureus and to EmrE from Escherichia coli. We screened 91 L. monocytogenes strains for the presence of Tn6188 by PCR and found Tn6188 in 10 of the analyzed strains. These isolates were from food and food processing environments and predominantly from serovar 1/2a. L. monocytogenes strains harboring Tn6188 had significantly higher BC minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) (28.5 ± 4.7 mg/l) than strains without Tn6188 (14 ± 3.2 mg/l). Using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR we could show a significant increase in qacH expression in the presence of BC. QacH deletion mutants were generated in two L. monocytogenes strains and growth analysis revealed that ΔqacH strains had lower BC MICs than wildtype strains. In conclusion, our results provide evidence that Tn6188 is responsible for BC tolerance in various L. monocytogenes strains.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Amino acid, Molecular biology, Reverse transcriptase, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis


BACKGROUND: Listeriosis is a foodborne infection with a low incidence but a high case fatality rate. Unlike common foodborne diseases, the incubation period can be long. The first incubation periods were documented during a large listeriosis outbreak published in 1987 by Linnan and al. in the New England Journal of Medicine (range: 3 days to 70 days). Data on the incubation period of listeriosis are scarce. Our study aim was to estimate precisely the incubation period of listeriosis using available data since 1987. METHODS: We estimated the incubation period of listeriosis using available published data and data from outbreak investigations carried out by the French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance. We selected cases with an incubation period calculated when a patient had a single exposure to a confirmed food source contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. RESULTS: We identified 37 cases of invasive listeriosis (10 cases with central nervous system involvement (CNS cases), 15 bacteraemia cases and 12 pregnancy-associated cases) and 9 outbreaks with gastroenteritis.The overall median incubation period of invasive listeriosis was 8 days (range: 1–67 days) and differed significantly by clinical form of the disease (p<0.0001). A longer incubation period was observed for pregnancy-associated cases (median: 27.5 days; range: 17--67 days) than for CNS cases (median: 9 days; range: 1--14 days) and for bacteraemia cases (median: 2 days; range: 1--12 days). For gastroenteritis cases, the median incubation period was 24 hours with variation from 6 to 240 hours. CONCLUSIONS: This information has implications for the investigation of food borne listeriosis outbreaks as the incubation period is used to determine the time period for which a food history is collected. We believe that, for listeriosis outbreaks, adapting the exposure window for documenting patients' food histories in accordance with the clinical form of infection will facilitate the identification of food products as the source of contamination. We therefore propose to take an exposure window of 14 days before the diagnosis for CNS and bacteraemia cases, and of 6 weeks before the diagnosis, for pregnancy-associated cases.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Epidemiology, Disease, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeriosis, Foodborne illness, Incubation period


Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for gastroenteritis in healthy individuals and for a severe invasive disease in immunocompromised patients. Among the three identified L. monocytogenes evolutionary lineages, lineage I strains are overrepresented in epidemic listeriosis outbreaks, but the mechanisms underlying the higher virulence potential of strains of this lineage remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that Listeriolysin S (LLS), a virulence factor only present in a subset of lineage I strains, is a bacteriocin highly expressed in the intestine of orally infected mice that alters the host intestinal microbiota and promotes intestinal colonization by L. monocytogenes, as well as deeper organ infection. To our knowledge, these results therefore identify LLS as the first bacteriocin described in L. monocytogenes and associate modulation of host microbiota by L. monocytogenes epidemic strains to increased virulence.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Microbiology, Meningitis, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis


The relationship between the number of ingested Listeria monocytogenes cells in food and the likelihood of developing listeriosis is not well understood. Data from an outbreak of listeriosis linked to milkshakes made from ice cream produced in 1 factory showed that contaminated products were distributed widely to the public without any reported cases, except for 4 cases of severe illness in persons who were highly susceptible. The ingestion of high doses of L. monocytogenes by these patients infected through milkshakes was unlikely if possible additional contamination associated with the preparation of the milkshake is ruled out. This outbreak illustrated that the vast majority of the population did not become ill after ingesting a low level of L. monocytogenes but raises the question of listeriosis cases in highly susceptible persons after distribution of low-level contaminated products that did not support the growth of this pathogen.

Concepts: Eating, Ingestion, Milk, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis


Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a foodborne disease that poses serious risks to fetuses, newborns and immunocompromised adults. This intracellular bacterial pathogen proliferates in the host cytosol and exploits the host actin polymerization machinery to spread from cell-to-cell and disseminate in the host. Here, we report that during several days of infection in human hepatocytes or trophoblast cells, L. monocytogenes switches from this active motile lifestyle to a stage of persistence in vacuoles. Upon intercellular spread, bacteria gradually stopped producing the actin-nucleating protein ActA and became trapped in lysosome-like vacuoles termed Listeria-Containing Vacuoles (LisCVs). Subpopulations of bacteria resisted degradation in LisCVs and entered a slow/non-replicative state. During the subculture of host cells harboring LisCVs, bacteria showed a capacity to cycle between the vacuolar and the actin-based motility stages. When ActA was absent, such as in ΔactA mutants, vacuolar bacteria parasitized host cells in the so-called “viable but non-culturable” state (VBNC), preventing their detection by conventional colony counting methods. The exposure of infected cells to high doses of gentamicin did not trigger the formation of LisCVs, but selected for vacuolar and VBNC bacteria. Together, these results reveal the ability of L. monocytogenes to enter a persistent state in a subset of epithelial cells, which may favor the asymptomatic carriage of this pathogen, lengthen the incubation period of listeriosis, and promote bacterial survival during antibiotic therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Cell, Bacteria, Microbiology, Meningitis, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis