Research – Isolation of Listeria monocytogenes from poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) infesting a backyard chicken farm in Greece

The poultry red mite (PRM), Dermanyssus gallinae, is arguably the most harmful, ubiquitous haematophagous ectoparasite infesting egg-laying hens. PRM is a vector of various microorganisms, with some being important for food microbiology and public health. The present study aimed to investigate the presence of specific pathogens, including Escherichia coliSalmonella spp. and Listeria spp., carried by PRM infesting a chicken farm in Greece. Mites were caught using cardboard traps (Avivet), and 100 unwashed PRM were homogenized and used for microbiological cultures. Microbiological cultures were carried out on general and selective substrates to detect the above-mentioned bacteria. Specifically for Listeria spp., DNA was extracted from bacteria grown in Tryptone Soya Yeast Extract Agar using a commercial kit. The hly gene encoding the Listeriolysin O protein was amplified by PCR. Mites were identified as D. gallinae using morphological keys as well as by COI DNA barcoding. Microbiological cultures and PCR assays were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No other bacteria were detected. The current study constitutes the first molecular isolation of L. monocytogenes from Dgallinae, confirming that PRM can carry this food-borne pathogen. PRM control measures and hygiene practices should be applied to minimize any possible contamination risk of poultry products with L. monocytogenes and safeguard public health.

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