Background: Molecular subtyping and enhanced surveillance in Lombardy region identified a cluster of possibly related listeriosis cases from 2006 to 2010. This cluster grouped 31 isolates that belonged to serotype 1/2a and Sequence Type 38 (ST38) as defined by Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST). Methods: Our study expanded the previous investigation to include cases from 2011 to 2014 and used Multi-Virulence-Locus Sequence Typing (MVLST) on all ST38 isolates to better understand their epidemiology and possibly identify a common source outbreak. Results: Out of 306L. monocytogenes clinical isolates collected, 43 (14.1%) belonged to ST38 with cases occurring in nine out of twelve Lombardy provinces. The ST38 isolates were split by MVLST into two Virulence Types (VTs): VT80 (n=12) and VT104 (n=31). VT104 cases were concentrated between 2009 and 2011 in two provinces, Bergamo and Milan. An epidemiologic investigation was performed and in one case, a matching VT104 isolate was retrieved from a soft cheese sample from a patient's refrigerator. Conclusions: Our findings revealed a major listeriosis outbreak in Northern Italy linked to soft cheese in 2009-2011, which went undetected by local health authorities. Our study shows that integrating subtyping methods with conventional epidemiology can help identify the source of L. monocytogenes outbreak clones.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases