Ecology and transmission of Listena monocytogenes infecting ruminants and in the farm environment

K. K. Nightingale, Y. H. Schukken, C. R. Nightingale, E. D. Fortes, A. J. Ho, Z. Her, Y. T. Grohn, P. L. McDonough, M. Wiedmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    A case-control study involving 24 case farms with at least one recent case of listeriosis and 28 matched control farms with no listeriosis cases was conducted to probe the transmission and ecology of Listeria monocytogenes on farms. A total of 528 fecal, 516 feed, and 1,012 environmental soil and water samples were cultured for L. monocytogenes. While the overall prevalence of L. monocytogenes in cattle case farms (24.4%) was similar to that in control farms (20.2%), small-ruminant (goat and sheep) farms showed a significantly (P < 0.0001) higher prevalence in case farms (32.9%) than in control farms (5.9%). EcoRI ribotyping of clinical (n = 17) and farm (n -414) isolates differentiated 51 ribotypes. L. monocytogenes ribotypes isolated from clinical cases and fecal samples were more frequent in environmental than in feed samples, indicating that infected animals may contribute to L. monocytogenes dispersal into the farm environment. Ribotype DUP-1038B was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with fecal samples compared with farm environment and animal feedstuff samples. Ribotype DUP-1045A was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with soil compared to feces and with control farms compared to case farms. Our data indicate that (i) the epidemiology and transmission of L. monocytogenes differ between small-ruminant and cattle farms; (ii) cattle contribute to amplification and dispersal of L. monocytogenes into the farm environment, (iii) the bovine farm ecosystem maintains a high prevalence of L. monocytogenes, including subtypes linked to human listeriosis cases and outbreaks, and (iv) L. monocytogenes subtypes may differ in their abilities to infect animals and to survive in farm environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4458-4467
    Number of pages10
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004


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