Prevalence of Listeria Monocytogenes in the Pre-Harvest Environment: A Landscape Epidemiology Approach
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Listeria monocytogenes is the causative agent of the foodborne disease listeriosis. Although the incidence of listeriosis is lower than that of other foodborne diseases, it’s much higher mortality rate makes it a cause for serious concern. Listeria monocytogenes is a saprophyte in the environment but it can become pathogenic for humans and animals. It is well adapted for survival in soil, water, and livestock manure from where it can contaminate fruits and vegetables. Produce-associated listeriosis outbreaks are frequently caused by contamination occurring in the pre-harvest environment, so there is a need for more effective control measures targeted at produce fields. The combination of epidemiological data and advanced computational tools, such as GIS and machine learning, have made it possible to develop models that predict L. monocytogenes prevalence across different landscapes. The predictive model can assist fresh-produce farmers in selecting the most effective controls to reduce contamination in the pre-harvest environment.