Andalusian authorities have allocated €100,000 (U.S. $113,000) for research to learn from the region’s Listeria outbreak in 2019. The project will focus on the epidemiological, microbiological and clinical analysis of the listeriosis outbreak, according to the Ministry of Health and Families in Andalusia.

The outbreak from “La Mecha” brand chilled roasted pork produced by Magrudis affected more than 200 people. During the health alert between mid-August and mid-October three people died and there were five abortions.

Four part project
Listeriosis in Spain has been a reportable, also referred to as notifiable, disease since 2015 and there is a growing trend with the number of hospitalizations rising. Andalusian officials said knowing more about this disease was key to control new cases and stop a possible outbreak.

The objective is to study these areas and generate knowledge to identify ways to improve the surveillance, diagnosis and treatment of listeriosis; and to recognize the epidemiological, microbiological and clinical innovations during the outbreak.

It is structured in four parts looking at epidemiology, microbiology, clinical areas and one section on the outbreak in pregnant women.

About twenty experts will participate in the work led by José Miguel Cisneros Herreros, director of the Clinical Unit for Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Preventive Medicine at the Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, and president of the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology.

Earlier this year nearly 700 professionals met in Seville to discuss Spain’s largest ever Listeria crisis at the International Symposium on the Andalusian Listeriosis outbreak.

During the outbreak investigation, more than 1,800 establishments were inspected and 8,000 kilograms of meat seized by authorities. It was also reported by Spanish authorities to the World Health Organization, via the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN).

Listeria infection research
Meanwhile, scientists have looked at how Listeria invades human and other animals’ cells.

Juan José Quereda Torres, researcher and professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Studies of the CEU Cardenal Herrera University of Valencia, collaborated with Institut Pasteur in Paris, where he used to work.

Findings published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases reveal how the bacterium invades cells to replicate and spread the infection in people and animals. Work focuses on the infectious process through which Listeria monocytogenes invades the cells of the host, breaks through their internalization vacuole and reaches the cytosol to replicate.

“In order to progress on the knowledge of this process, in this latest research with Institut Pasteur, we inactivated the expression of the 165 most important genes of the host mammal for the infection by Listeria monocytogenes, and we have identified for the first time the factors of the host that modulate the rupture of the vacuole and the cytoplasmic access to epithelial cells,” said Quereda.

Quereda added results could make it possible to develop new therapies to treat listeriosis in humans and other animals in the future. He has been chosen as the beneficiary of a contract with the Ramón y Cajal program of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities to continue studying listeriosis.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)