Author(s): Churchill RL, Lee H, Hall JC
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Abstract Listeria monocytogenes is an emerging bacterial foodborne pathogen responsible for listeriosis, an illness characterized by meningitis, encephalitis, and septicaemia. Less commonly, infection can result in cutaneous lesions and flu-like symptoms. In pregnant women, the pathogen can cause bacteraemia, and stillbirth or premature birth of the fetus. The mortality rate for those contracting listeriosis is approximately 20\%. Currently, the United States has a zero tolerance policy regarding the presence of L. monocytogenes in food, while Canada allows only 100 cfu/g of food. As such, it is essential to be able to detect the pathogen in low numbers in food samples. One of the best ways to detect and confirm the pathogen is through the detection of one of the virulence factors, listeriolysin O (LLO) produced by the microorganism. The LLO-encoding gene (hlyA) is present only in virulent strains of the species and is required for virulence. LLO is a secreted protein toxin that can be detected easily with the use of blood agar or haemolysis assays and it is well characterized and understood. This paper focuses on some of the common methods used to detect the pathogen and the LLO toxin in food products and comments on some of the potential uses and drawbacks for the food industry.
This article was published in J Microbiol Methods
and referenced in Clinical Microbiology: Open Access