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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Nov;78(22):7891-902. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02195-12. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Prevalence and relative risk of Cronobacter spp., Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes associated with the body surfaces and guts of individual filth flies.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, Maryland, USA.


Although flies are important vectors of food-borne pathogens, there is little information to accurately assess the food-related health risk of the presence of individual flies, especially in urban areas. This study quantifies the prevalence and the relative risk of food-borne pathogens associated with the body surfaces and guts of individual wild flies. One hundred flies were collected from the dumpsters of 10 randomly selected urban restaurants. Flies were identified using taxonomic keys before being individually dissected. Cronobacter spp., Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes were detected using the PCR-based BAX system Q7. Positive samples were confirmed by culture on specific media and through PCR amplification and sequencing or ribotyping. Among collected flies were the housefly, Musca domestica (47%), the blowflies, Lucilia cuprina (33%) and Lucilia sericata (14%), and others (6%). Cronobacter species were detected in 14% of flies, including C. sakazakii, C. turicensis, and C. universalis, leading to the proposal of flies as a natural reservoir of this food-borne pathogen. Six percent of flies carried Salmonella enterica, including the serovars Poona, Hadar, Schwarzengrund, Senftenberg, and Brackenridge. L. monocytogenes was detected in 3% of flies. Overall, the prevalence of food-borne pathogens was three times greater in the guts than on the body surfaces of the flies. The relative risk of flies carrying any of the three pathogens was associated with the type of pathogen, the body part of the fly, and the ambient temperature. These data enhance the ability to predict the microbiological risk associated with the presence of individual flies in food and food facilities.

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