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Special Issue "Experimental Microbiologic Investigations in Clinical Specimens, Foods and the Environments"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 12384

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Pasqualina Laganà
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences and Morphofunctional Imaging, University of Messina, A.O.U. "G. Martino" - Torre Biologica 3°p, Via C. Valeria, s.n.c., 98125 Messina, Italy
Interests: foodborne pathogens; spread of antibiotic resistance in strains from the environment and food matrices; food and health
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

"Healthy environment, health for all. Unhealthy environment, diseases for all" is an axiom by now accepted by all. The microbial world exerts a strong influence on binomial environmenta-health, because microorganisms represent an essential part and an intrinsic component of the environment. In fact, the relationship with the environment is one of the fundamental determinants of the health status of the human population. The relationship between the individual and the various environmental factors can be expressed in different states of wellbeing or illness. The environment can indirectly or directly affect health. It can, in fact, promote the circulation of pathogens and other biological factors (for example, pollens and other allergens). However, it can also act through non-biological factors, such as the presence of chemical and physical contaminants.

Especially among the very young, between ages 0 and 14, the percentage of deaths attributed to the environment is 36% (Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments, WHO, 2016). In recent decades, diseases with microbial etiology have regained vigorous and danger due, above all, to the appearance and rapid spread of bacterial strains with chemo-antibiotic multi-resistance. To prevent the feared morbidity and mortality rates forecast for 2050, it is necessary to actively promote and implement a series of experimental microbiological investigations for the isolation and study of bacterial strains from Clinical specimens, Environment and Food.

This Special Issue focuses on the main factors that make the environment around us vulnerable. New or improved strategies to identify the necessary measures to reduce environmental microbial contamination, mitigate the infectious risks associated with it and, consequently, improve human health are welcome.

Prof. Pasqualina Laganà
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Microbiologic investigations
  • Environment
  • Foods
  • Human infectious disease
  • Antibiotic resistance

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
SARS-CoV-2 RNA and Supermarket Surfaces: A Real or Presumed Threat?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9404; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179404 - 06 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2032
Abstract
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in March 2020 in Italy, leading to the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to cause high global morbidity and mortality in human populations. Numerous studies have focused on the spread and persistence [...] Read more.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in March 2020 in Italy, leading to the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to cause high global morbidity and mortality in human populations. Numerous studies have focused on the spread and persistence of the virus in the hospital setting. New scientific evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 is present in different community environments. Although aerosol is one of the main routes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, indirect contact through virus-contaminated surfaces could also play a key role. The survival and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces appear to be influenced by the characteristics of the material, temperature, and humidity. In this study, we investigated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on surfaces in 20 supermarkets throughout the Apulia region during the lockdown period. We collected a total of 300 swab samples from various surfaces including supermarket scales, trolley handles, refrigerator and freezer handles, and keyboards. In total, 13 (4.3%) surfaces were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA contamination, with shopping trolley handles being the most frequently contaminated. This study showed that contamination in public spaces can occur, so we remark the importance to adopt adequate preventive measures, including environment ventilation, careful surfaces sanitation, hand hygiene, and correct usage of masks, to reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. Full article
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Article
Is the Antibacterial Activity of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs) Related to Antibiotic Resistance? An Assessment in Clinical Isolates
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9310; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179310 - 03 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1100
Abstract
Antimicrobial resistance has spread globally, compromising the treatment of common infections. This feature is particularly harmful for nosocomial pathogens that can survive on hospital surfaces. Research studies have been conducted to evaluate new materials that are able to counteract the microbial growth and [...] Read more.
Antimicrobial resistance has spread globally, compromising the treatment of common infections. This feature is particularly harmful for nosocomial pathogens that can survive on hospital surfaces. Research studies have been conducted to evaluate new materials that are able to counteract the microbial growth and the colonization of the hospital environment. In this context, nanotechnologies have showed encouraging applications. We investigated the antibacterial activity of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), both pristine (p) and functionalized (f), at concentrations of 50 and 100 μg mL−1, against bacterial strains isolated from hospital-acquired infections, and this activity was correlated with the antibiotic susceptibility of the strains. The inhibiting effect of MWCNTs occurred for both types and doses tested. Moreover, f-MWCNTs exerted a greater inhibiting effect, with growth decreases greater than 10% at 24 h and 20% at 48 h compared to p-MWCNTs. Moreover, a lower inhibitory effect of MWCNTs, which was more lasting in Gram-positives resistant to cell wall antibiotics, or temporary in Gram-negatives resistant to nucleic acid and protein synthesis inhibitors, was observed, highlighting the strong relation between antibiotic resistance and MWCNT effect. In conclusion, an antimicrobial activity was observed especially for f-MWCNTs that could therefore be loaded with bioactive antimicrobial molecules. However, this potential application of CNTs presupposes the absence of toxicity and therefore total safety for patients. Full article
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Article
How Much Does HIV Positivity Affect the Presence of Oral HPV? A Molecular Epidemiology Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 8999; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178999 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1043
Abstract
HIV-positive people showed a high oral prevalence of HPV-DNA and have a greater incidence of head and neck carcinomas compared to general population. We performed a molecular survey evaluating the presence of HPV-DNA in saliva of HIV-positive and HIV-negative subjects in order to [...] Read more.
HIV-positive people showed a high oral prevalence of HPV-DNA and have a greater incidence of head and neck carcinomas compared to general population. We performed a molecular survey evaluating the presence of HPV-DNA in saliva of HIV-positive and HIV-negative subjects in order to quantify the risk represented by HIV-positivity. The sample was made up by 102 subjects: 40 HIV-positive, 32 HIV-negative with sexual risk behaviors (SRB) and 30 HIV-negative without risk factors. DNA was extracted from cellular pellets and HPV detection and genotyping were performed by PCR assays. In the HIV-positive group (of which 58.3% declared SRB) 33.33% of the sample were HPV-positive (33.33% to high-risk genotypes, 25.0% to low-risk genotypes and 41.66% to other genotypes). In the HIV-negative SRB group, HPV-positive subjects were 37.04% (60.0% to high risk genotypes, 20.0% to low risk genotypes, and 20.0% to other genotypes). Finally, in the control group, the HPV-positive subjects were 7.14% (50% to high-risk genotypes and 50% to low-risk genotypes). In the HIV group, concerning the HPV positivity, there was no significant difference between subjects with and without SRBs. In summary, we found a high oral HPV-DNA detection in HIV+ group, showing a strong relationship between HIV and HPV. Full article
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Article
Photocatalytic Treatments for Personal Protective Equipment: Experimental Microbiological Investigations and Perspectives for the Enhancement of Antimicrobial Activity by Micrometric TiO2
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168662 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1543
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to countries enforcing the use of facial masks to prevent contagion. However, acquisition, reuse, and disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) has generated problems, in regard to the safety of individuals and environmental sustainability. Effective strategies to reprocess [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to countries enforcing the use of facial masks to prevent contagion. However, acquisition, reuse, and disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) has generated problems, in regard to the safety of individuals and environmental sustainability. Effective strategies to reprocess and disinfect PPE are needed to improve the efficacy and durability of this equipment and to reduce waste load. Thus, the addition of photocatalytic materials to these materials, combined with light exposure at specific wavelengths, may represent promising solutions. To this aim, we prepared a series of masks by depositing micrometer-sized TiO2 on the external surfaces; the masks were then contaminated with droplets of bacteria suspensions and the coatings were activated by light radiation at different wavelengths. A significant reduction in the microbial load (over 90%, p < 0.01) was observed using both Gram negative (E. coli) and Gram positive (S. aureus) bacteria within 15 min of irradiation, with UV or visible light, including sunlight or artificial sources. Our results support the need for further investigations on self-disinfecting masks and other disposable PPE, which could positively impact (i) the safety of operators/workers, and (ii) environmental sustainability in different occupational or recreational settings. Full article
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Article
A Miniaturized Microbe-Silicon-Chip Based on Bioluminescent Engineered Escherichia coli for the Evaluation of Water Quality and Safety
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147580 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1454
Abstract
Conventional high throughput methods assaying the chemical state of water and the risk of heavy metal accumulation share common constraints of long and expensive analytical procedures and dedicated laboratories due to the typical bulky instrumentation. To overcome these limitations, a miniaturized optical system [...] Read more.
Conventional high throughput methods assaying the chemical state of water and the risk of heavy metal accumulation share common constraints of long and expensive analytical procedures and dedicated laboratories due to the typical bulky instrumentation. To overcome these limitations, a miniaturized optical system for the detection and quantification of inorganic mercury (Hg2+) in water was developed. Combining the bioactivity of a light-emitting mercury-specific engineered Escherichia coli—used as sensing element—with the optical performance of small size and inexpensive Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM)—used as detector—the system is able to detect mercury in low volumes of water down to the concentration of 1 µg L−1, which is the tolerance value indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), providing a highly sensitive and miniaturized tool for in situ water quality analysis. Full article
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Article
Combination of High-Pressure Processing and Freeze-Drying as the Most Effective Techniques in Maintaining Biological Values and Microbiological Safety of Donor Milk
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 2147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18042147 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2218
Abstract
Background: Human milk banks have a pivotal role in provide optimal food for those infants who are not fully breastfeed, by allowing human milk from donors to be collected, processed and appropriately distributed. Donor human milk (DHM) is usually preserved by Holder pasteurization, [...] Read more.
Background: Human milk banks have a pivotal role in provide optimal food for those infants who are not fully breastfeed, by allowing human milk from donors to be collected, processed and appropriately distributed. Donor human milk (DHM) is usually preserved by Holder pasteurization, considered to be the gold standard to ensure the microbiology safety and nutritional value of milk. However, as stated by the European Milk Banking Association (EMBA) there is a need to implement the improvement of the operating procedure of human milk banks including preserving and storing techniques. Aim: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness and safety of the selected new combination of methods for preserving donor human milk in comparison with thermal treatment (Holder pasteurization). Methods: We assessed (1) the concentration of bioactive components (insulin, adiponectin, leptin, activity of pancreatic lipase, and hepatocyte growth factor) and (2) microbiological safety in raw and pasteurized, high-pressure processed and lyophilization human breast milk. Results: The combination of two techniques, high-pressure processing and freeze-drying, showed the best potential for preserving the nutritional value of human milk and were evaluated for microbiological safety. Microbiological safety assessment excluded the possibility of using freeze-drying alone for human milk sample preservation. However, it can be used as a method for long-term storage of milk samples, which have previously been preserved via other processes. Conclusion: The results show that high-pressure treatment is the best method for preservation that ensures microbiological safety and biological activity but subsequent freeze-drying allowed long-term storage without loss of properties. Full article
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Article
Comprehensive Fungal Community Analysis of House Dust Using Next-Generation Sequencing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5842; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165842 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1883
Abstract
Fungal community analyses in homes have been attracting attention because fungi are now generally considered to be allergens. Currently, these analyses are generally conducted using the culture method, although fungal communities in households often contain species that are difficult to culture. In contrast, [...] Read more.
Fungal community analyses in homes have been attracting attention because fungi are now generally considered to be allergens. Currently, these analyses are generally conducted using the culture method, although fungal communities in households often contain species that are difficult to culture. In contrast, next-generation sequencing (NGS) represents a comprehensive, labor- and time-saving approach that can facilitate species identification. However, the reliability of the NGS method has not been compared to that of the culture method. In this study, in an attempt to demonstrate the reliability of this application, we used the NGS method to target the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) in the fungal genome, conducted fungal community analyses for 18 house-dust samples and analyzed fungal community structures. The NGS method positively correlated with the culture method regarding the relative abundance of Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium and yeasts, which represent the major fungal components found in houses. Furthermore, several genera, such as Malassezia, could be sensitively detected. Our results imply that the reliability of the NGS method is comparable to that of the culture method and indicates that easily available databases may require modifications, including the removal of registrations that have not been sufficiently classified at the genus level. Full article
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