There have been several Listeria outbreaks in Australia over the last two years, which have included several deaths.
It is the elderly, people with low immune systems and pregnant women which are most at risk from Listeria and it this group that are most likely to die if they contract Listeriosis.
The foods involved in these outbreaks include; smoked salmon, rockmelons catering foods, and pastrami and ham containing products.
It is also a common source of product recalls.
There are several types of Listeria monocytogenes which may be involved in food poisonings, and researchers at the Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) have just identified a new highly virulent form. It was identified from an outbreak with sheep in China.
The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.
The study involved scientists from the State Key Laboratory of Zoonosis of the University of Yangzhou in Jiangsu, China, the Laboratory of Food Microbiology of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland, and JLU, Germany.
The Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the JLU and research scientist at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Professor Trinad Chakraborty, said “Only by combining resources and expertise can we rapidly identify newly emerging threats to food safety from highly virulent strains worldwide. These isolates are unique in the sense that they combine the virulence characteristics of various highly pathogenic Listeria species that infect animals or humans into a single strain. Since listeriosis is a foodborne infection, measures to identify such highly virulent strains are extremely urgent.”