Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36222695
Link to DOI – 10.1128/spectrum.01825-22
Microbiol Spectr 2022 Dec; 10(6): e0182522
Listeria monocytogenes is a life-threatening foodborne pathogen. Here, we report the genomic characterization of a nationwide dataset of 411 clinical and 82 food isolates collected in Taiwan between 2014 and 2019. The observed incidence of listeriosis increased from 0.83 to 7 cases per million population upon implementation of mandatory notification in 2018. Pregnancy-associated cases accounted for 2.8% of human listeriosis and all-cause 7-day mortality was of 11.9% in nonmaternal-neonatal listeriosis. L. monocytogenes was isolated from 90% of raw pork and 34% of chicken products collected in supermarkets. Sublineages SL87, SL5, and SL378 accounted for the majority (65%) of clinical cases. SL87 and SL378 were also predominant (57%) in food products. Five cgMLST clusters accounted for 57% clinical cases, suggesting unnoticed outbreaks spanning up to 6 years. Mandatory notification allowed identifying the magnitude of listeriosis in Taiwan. Continuous real-time genomic surveillance will allow reducing contaminating sources and disease burden. IMPORTANCE Understanding the phylogenetic relationship between clinical and food isolates is important to identify the transmission routes of foodborne diseases. Here, we performed a nationwide study between 2014 and 2019 of both clinical and food Listeria monocytogenes isolates and sequenced their genomes. We show a 9-fold increase in listeriosis reporting upon implementation of mandatory notification. We found that sublineages SL87 and SL378 predominated among both clinical (50%) and food (57%) isolates, and identified five cgMLST clusters accounting for 57% of clinical cases, suggestive of potential protracted sources of contamination over up to 6 years in Taiwan. These findings highlight that mandatory declaration is critical in identifying the burden of listeriosis, and the importance of genome sequencing for a detailed characterization of the pathogenic L. monocytogenes genotypes circulating in Asia.