The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and characterization of Listeria species and Listeria monocytogenes isolated from raw fish and open-air fish market environments. Eight hundred and sixty two samples including raw fish and fish market environments (samples from workers' hands, workers' knives, containers and work surface) were collected from the open-air fish markets in the Northern region of Iran.
Listeria spp. was isolated from 104/488 (21.3 %) raw fish and 29/374 (7.8 %) of samples from open-air fish market environment. The isolates of Listeria spp. included L. innocua (35.3 %), L. monocytogenes (32.3 %), L. seeligeri (18 %), and L. ivanovii (14.3 %). Of the 43 L. monocytogenes isolates, 31 (72.1 %), 10 (23.3 %) and 2 (4.7 %) belonged to serovars 1/2a, 4b, and 1/2b, respectively. The inlA, inlB, inlC, inlJ, actA, hlyA, iap, plcA, and prfA virulence-associated genes were detected in almost all of the L. monocytogenes isolates. The Listeria spp. isolates showed high resistance against tetracycline (23.3 %), penicillin G, and cephalothin (each 16.5 %). Besides, we observed significant resistance level to tetracycline (27.9 %), ampicillin (20.9 %), cephalothin, penicillin G, and streptomycin (each 16.3 %) in the L. monocytogenes isolates. All of the isolates were susceptible to cefotaxime, gentamicin, kanamycin, and pefloxacin. We found that tetM (25.6 %), tetA (23.3 %), ampC (14 %), and penA (11.6 %) were the most prevalent antibiotic resistance genes in the L. monocytogenes isolates.
Recovery of potentially pathogenic L. monocytogenes from raw fish and environment of open-air fish market samples in this study is a convincing evidence for the zoonotic potential of listeriosis.