Researchers have detected a highly virulent new form of pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes.
It was identified as the cause of serious diseases in sheep in a remote area of the Chinese province Jiangsu.
An international research group led by the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) said it had found the most virulent representatives of this bacterial species to date. The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.
In people the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes can cause an infection known as listeriosis. Contaminated food is a frequent source of the infections. Raw and processed foods can be contaminated, especially dairy products, meat, seafood and ready-to-eat products such as pre-packaged salads. Elderly people, those with a weakened immune system and pregnant women are particularly at risk of serious infections and life-threatening complications.