Ruminant-associated Listeria monocytogenes isolates belong preferentially to dairy-associated hypervirulent clones: a longitudinal study in 19 farms

Environ Microbiol. 2021 Dec;23(12):7617-7631. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15860. Epub 2021 Dec 13.


Studies have shown that ruminants constitute reservoirs of Listeria monocytogenes, but little is known about the epidemiology and genetic diversity of this pathogen within farms. Here we conducted a large-scale longitudinal study to monitor Listeria spp. in 19 dairy farms during three consecutive seasons (N = 3251 samples). L. innocua was the most prevalent species, followed by L. monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes was detected in 52.6% of farms and more frequently in cattle (4.1%) and sheep (4.5%) than in goat farms (0.2%). Lineage I accounted for 69% of L. monocytogenes isolates. Among animal samples, the most prevalent sublineages (SL) and clonal complexes (CC) were SL1/CC1, SL219/CC4, SL26/CC26 and SL87/CC87, whereas SL666/CC666 was most prevalent in environmental samples. Sixty-one different L. monocytogenes cgMLST types were found, 28% common to different animals and/or surfaces within the same farm and 21% previously reported elsewhere in the context of food and human surveillance. Listeria monocytogenes prevalence was not affected by farm hygiene but by season: higher prevalence was observed during winter in cattle, and during winter and spring in sheep farms. Cows in their second lactation had a higher probability of L. monocytogenes faecal shedding. This study highlights dairy farms as a reservoir for hypervirulent L. monocytogenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Clone Cells
  • Farms
  • Female
  • Listeria monocytogenes*
  • Listeriosis* / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Ruminants
  • Sheep