Prevalence of Emerging Pathogens Cronobacter spp. and Pantoea dispersa in Low Moisture Foods
Until recently, members of the Cronobacter genus (for-merly known as Enterobacter sakazakii) were a relatively unknown cause of human infections. Cronobacter spp. has since garnered significant attention as a major microbial contaminant of low moisture foods (LMFs). This study was conducted to survey the worldwide contamination of LMFs with Cronobacter spp. from 2002 to 2019 by using HorizonScan (an online surveillance tool) and to assess the prevalence of this pathogen in LMFs in the local food supply chain of Mauritius. LMF samples (n = 302) were collected from local retail outlets and subjected to microbi-ological analyses and molecular identification. HorizonScan recorded 31 notifications worldwide for LMFs contami-nated with Cronobacter spp. Presumptive Cronobacter spp. were isolated from 35% of local LMF samples but were subsequently confirmed to be Pantoea dispersa. This report is the first for P. dispersa in LMFs in Mauritius, and this organism is considered an emerging opportunistic hu-man pathogen. Wheat flour was identified as an important vehicle for P. dispersa with a contamination rate of 100%. Because LMFs are an integral part of the human diet and are consumed almost daily, these commodities should be monitored for P. dispersa.
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