Streptococcus suis is an important pathogen causing economic problems in the pig industry. Moreover, it is a zoonotic agent causing severe infections to people in close contact with infected pigs or pork-derived products. Although considered sporadic in the past, human S. suis infections have been reported during the last 45 years, with two large outbreaks recorded in China. In fact, the number of reported human cases has significantly increased in recent years. In this review, we present the worldwide distribution of serotypes and sequence types (STs), as determined by multilocus sequence typing, for pigs (between 2002 and 2013) and humans (between 1968 and 2013). The methods employed for S. suis identification and typing, the current epidemiological knowledge regarding serotypes and STs and the zoonotic potential of S. suis are discussed. Increased awareness of S. suis in both human and veterinary diagnostic laboratories and further establishment of typing methods will contribute to our knowledge of this pathogen, especially in regions where complete and/or recent data is lacking. More research is required to understand differences in virulence that occur among S. suis strains and if these differences can be associated with specific serotypes or STs.
Keywords: Streptococcus suis; pig pathogen; sequence types; serotypes; zoonotic agent.