An outbreak of an unusual strain of Listeria monocytogenes infection in North-East Scotland

Emmanuel Okpo*, Jayne Leith, Alison Smith-Palmer, John Bell, Duncan Parks, Fiona Browning, Lynn Byers, Helen Corrigan, Diana Webster, Anne M Karcher, Andrew Murray, Tom Storey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Listeria monocytogenes infection is an important cause of illness and hospitalization in vulnerable individuals. In the present study, we describe a community outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in the North-East region of Scotland, which was epidemiologically, environmentally and microbiologically linked to a local meat product and ready-to-eat product manufacturer. Infected individuals were interviewed, and an environmental investigation was conducted. Clinical and environmental samples were tested by culture, and isolates were typed by fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (fAFLP). Three cases of Listeria monocytogenes were linked geographically, had the same serotype (1/2a) and were indistinguishable by fAFLP type XII.6. The human, food and environmental isolates were of the same serotype and were indistinguishable by molecular typing.This is the first community outbreak of L monocytogenes reported in Scotland since the current outbreak surveillance was established in 1996. Epidemiological and laboratory evidence indicated poor hand hygiene, unhygienic practices and cross-contamination throughout the manufacturing process of ready-to-eat foods as a possible cause of the outbreak. More stringent control of commercial food establishments that provide ready-to-eat food and the need to advise specifically vulnerable groups, e.g., pregnant women, of the risk of L monocytogenes in ready-to-eat food is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-618
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infection and Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date19 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Kerry Parrott and Pauline Fuchs from the Aberdeen Scientific Services Laboratory (ASSL) for the analysis and testing of food and environmental samples. We also thank Corinne Amar, Craig Swift and Adedoyin Awofisayo from PHE Foodborne Pathogens Reference Services, London, for providing expert advice and molecular typing results in a timely manner.

No funding sources.


  • Community acquired infection
  • Foodborne
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Listeriosis
  • Outbreak


Dive into the research topics of 'An outbreak of an unusual strain of Listeria monocytogenes infection in North-East Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this