Maria Rita Tricoli, Chiara Massaro, Ignazio Arrigo, Orazia Diquattro, Francesca Di Bernardo, Elena Galia, Mario Palermo, Teresa Fasciana, Anna Giammanco

Characterization of Listeria monocytogenes Strains Isolated in Palermo (Sicily and Italy) during the Years 2018–2020 from Severe Cases of Listeriosis

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Listeria monocytogenes (LM), the etiological agent of listeriosis, can cause foodborne zoonosis. In this study, we characterized 23 strains that caused human severe listeriosis in Palermo (Sicily, Italy) during the period of 2018–2020. In addition, we assessed the phenotypic susceptibility of clinical isolates to antibiotics in accordance with EUCAST guidelines. The serogroup was determined through the use of PCR, while MLST and MVLST were identified through the sequencing of housekeeping genes. Finally, susceptibility to antibiotics was assessed by means of the Phoenix automatic system. Patients hospitalized with listeriosis were predominantly males (56% vs. 44% of females). The cases not associated with pregnancy included patients >65 years of age (60%), two of whom were affected by cancer, while cases associated with pregnancy included two pregnant women and three preterm infants. The data collected showed that the main pathologies shown by patients were meningitis (60.9%) and bacteremia (39.1%). The LM strains were isolated from the blood (52%), cerebrospinal fluid (26%), cerebrospinal fluid + blood (13%), blood + a nasal swab (4%), and ascitic fluid (4%). The predominant serogroup was IVb (96%), whereas only one strain belonged to serogroup IIa (4%). Among the strains with serotypes 4b, 4d, and 4e, ST2/VT21 (92%) and ST6/VT19 (4%) were determined, while only isolates with serotypes 1/2a and3a show ST155/VT45 (CC155). This study reveals the widespread circulation of a clinical strain (ST2/VT21) associated with suspected food contamination, demonstrating the importance of carrying out molecular epidemiological surveillance. Our clinical isolates were susceptible to the beta-lactams assayed, in agreement with the literature data.

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