Variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) have become familiar terms due to the current pandemic, but variants of familiar pathogens such as salmonella also present a threat to human and animal health.
To better understand the different threats these variants pose, a collaboration led by Professor Rob Kingsley from the Quadram Institute and Professor Mark Stevens from the Roslin Institute working with scientists from the Earlham Institute has focused on common variants of salmonella present in pigs in the UK. Their findings, published recently in the journal Communications Biology, has shown that despite being extremely closely related, variants can have very different effects on the health of the pig and also on the risks they pose to food safety.
Salmonella Typhimurium is one of the most common types of salmonella. It is a major cause of human gastroenteritis, notably from consuming undercooked pork products or as a result of cross-contamination of foods consumed raw. This bacterial pathogen is also a concern to the pork industry as it can affect the health, productivity and welfare of pigs. Salmonella Typhimurium is relatively common in pig herds globally, and processes implemented in abattoirs are designed to prevent contamination of meat destined for the food chain.