This article is part of the Research Topic Agriculture, Environment, Microorganisms and Human Health

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 04 March 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00030

Prevalence of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes at public access watershed sites in a California Central Coast agricultural region

  • 1Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Albany, CA, USA
  • 2Division of Risk Analysis, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD, USA

Produce contaminated with enteric pathogens is a major source of foodborne illness in the United States. Lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds were sampled with Moore swabs bi-monthly for over 2 years at 30 locations in the vicinity of a leafy green growing region on the Central California Coast and screened for Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes to evaluate the prevalence and persistence of pathogen subtypes. The prevalence of STEC from 1386 samples was 11%; 110 samples (8%) contained E. coli O157:H7 with the highest prevalence occurring close to cattle operations. Non-O157 STEC isolates represented major clinical O-types and 57% contained both shiga toxin types 1 and 2 and intimin. Multiple Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis of STEC isolates indicated prevalent strains during the period of study. Notably, Salmonella was present at high levels throughout the sampling region with 65% prevalence in 1405 samples resulting in 996 isolates with slightly lower prevalence in late autumn. There were 2, 8, and 14 sites that were Salmonella-positive over 90, 80, and 70% of the time, respectively. The serotypes identified most often were 6,8:d:-, Typhimurium, and Give. Interestingly, analysis by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis indicated persistence and transport of pulsotypes in the region over several years. In this original study of L. monocytogenes in the region prevalence was 43% of 1405 samples resulting in 635 individual isolates. Over 85% of the isolates belonged to serotype 4b with serotypes 1/2a, 1/2b, 3a, 4d with 4e representing the rest, and there were 12 and 2 sites that were positive over 50 and 80% of the time, respectively. Although surface water is not directly used for irrigation in this region, transport to the produce can occur by other means. This environmental survey assesses initial contamination levels toward an understanding of transport leading to produce recalls or outbreaks.

Keywords: STEC O157:57, STEC non-O157, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, watersheds, agriculture, leafy-vegetable production, prevalence

Citation: Cooley MB, Quiñones B, Oryang D, Mandrell RE and Gorski L (2014) Prevalence of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes at public access watershed sites in a California Central Coast agricultural region. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 4:30. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00030

Received: 30 December 2013; Paper pending published: 29 January 2014;
Accepted: 16 February 2014; Published online: 04 March 2014.

Edited by:

Alain Hartmann, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France

Reviewed by:

Robert J. C. McLean, Texas State University, USA
Hua Xie, Meharry Medical College, USA

Copyright © 2014 Cooley, Quiñones, Oryang, Mandrell and Gorski. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Lisa Gorski, Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710, USA e-mail: lisa.gorski@ars.usda.gov

These authors have contributed equally to this work.

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