FREQUENCY OF BACTERIA SALMONELLA ENTERICA AND LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES IN VEGETABLE IN THE REPUBLIC OF SRPSKA (BiH)
Recently, epidemics that have occurred as a result of the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms by consuming contaminated fresh vegetables have become more frequent. Among the most massive were poisonings by bacteria originating from spinach in the Unated States of America, from mung beans in Japan, as well as an epidemic caused by Escherichia coli from pumpkin in Germany. Unfortunately, hemolytic uraemic syndrome caused by Escherichia coli in Germany affected 3,950 people in 2011, of whom 53 died. Although vegetables do not represent a natural habitat for bacteria that cause diseases in humans, it is clear that certain groups of human pathogenic microorganisms can find their ecological niches in plant production systems. Ways of contaminating plants with these bacteria are poorly understood. It is assumed that fertilization and irrigation with untreated water are some of the possible ways of transmitting pathogenic bacteria to agricultural crops. The aim of the research was to indicate the possible presence of potentially pathogenic strains of bacteria on certain vegetable crops (lettuce, spinach, tomato, paprika, carrot, parsley, red onion) in the northeastern part of Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Samples were collected over three months in 10 greenhouses and 10 vegetable gardens in the Semberija area. Extraction of bacteria from the samples was performed by immersing the macerated plant tissue in the extraction solution with sterile pepton water. Indirect culture methods on highly selective chromogenic media were used to isolate Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes strains. After comparing the obtained isolates with positive controls, suspicious colonies were isolated and the strains were confirmed by DNA extraction and AmpliTest PCR method with specific primers. The presence of Salmonella enterica was confirmed on tomato fruits, bell peppers, lettuce leaves and red onion bulbs, while Listeria monocytogenes was isolated on lettuce and spinach leaves. The presence of potential pathogens on fresh vegetables, especially those consumed without prior heat treatment, is alarming. In order to prevent negative consequences, it is necessary to specify the routes of their transmission as well as to examine their viability in non-specific ecological niches such as agricultural crops. Data on the viability of bacteria on agricultural crops can be found in the literature for only a small number of strains that are "most attractive", such as Escherichia coli strains, while for other pathogens data are very scarce or non-existent. Data on their infectivity is even harder to find.
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