Chapter 9 : Food-to-Humans Bacterial Transmission

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Food is considered one of the main environmental drivers shaping the human microbiota across the life span. Microorganisms vehiculated by food can be related to a variety of scenarios, including those benefiting health (e.g., stimulation of host antibodies, release of chemicals to stimulate the health of the overall system, or inhibition of pathogen development), those causing minimal change within the equilibrium of the host microbial community, and those that are pathogenic or have been associated with gut-host dysbiosis ( ). Recently there has been an increase in knowledge on gut bacterial genera and species commonly affected by diet, as well as evidence suggesting that the intestinal microbiome plays an important role in modulating the risk of several chronic diseases (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer) ( ). Nevertheless, comprehensive information about the types of diet that transmit bacteria implicated in those diseases, as well as environmental and host factors favoring their colonization, remains scarce. Notwithstanding, food as a transmission mode for microorganisms reaching humans is extensively characterized for different pathogenic bacteria, the environment, animals, and humans being their main reservoirs ( Fig. 1 ) and the fecal-oral route their main transmission route ( ). A triad including a contaminated food item, a susceptible human host, and bacterial pathogens able to survive and multiply in specific environmental conditions must be present for the occurrence of a foodborne disease. Nevertheless, transmission of typical foodborne pathogens can also occur more rarely by alternative transmission modes, as by direct contact of humans with infected animals or between humans ( ).

Citation: Antunes P, Novais C, Peixe L. 2019. Food-to-Humans Bacterial Transmission, p 161-193. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0019-2016
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Figure 1

Reservoirs of the main pathogenic and potentially beneficial bacteria transmitted from food to humans.

Citation: Antunes P, Novais C, Peixe L. 2019. Food-to-Humans Bacterial Transmission, p 161-193. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0019-2016
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Figure 2

Factors that drive transmission of pathogenic bacteria from food to humans.

Citation: Antunes P, Novais C, Peixe L. 2019. Food-to-Humans Bacterial Transmission, p 161-193. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0019-2016
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Figure 3

Implications of antibiotic-resistant bacteria transmitted from food to humans. AB, antibiotic resistance.

Citation: Antunes P, Novais C, Peixe L. 2019. Food-to-Humans Bacterial Transmission, p 161-193. In Baquero F, Bouza E, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J, Coque T (ed), Microbial Transmission. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MTBP-0019-2016
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