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Special Issue "Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Clementina Elvezia Cocuzza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca, 20900 Monza, Italy
Interests: human pathogens; molecular diagnostics; antimicrobial-resistance mechanisms; antimicrobial susceptibility testing; clinical microbiology
Dr. Maria Luisa Ricci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Infectious Diseases, National Reference Laboratory for Legionella, Rome, Italy
Interests: bacteriology; Legionella; diagnosis; typing; outbreak investigation; disinfection
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental bacterial pathogens have been demonstrated to have an increasingly important impact on human health. Research in this field has focused on the study of potential human pathogens present in different environmental natural habitats, such as water, soil, and air, as well as agricultural, industrial, and healthcare-associated structures, to better understand their potential risks to human health and to establish new guidelines and methods for assessing and preventing infection risk. Studies demonstrating how diseases are caused and/or transmitted by specific pathogens, in combination with one or multiple environmental factors, have, in fact, contributed to scientific evidence supporting the fast and efficient identification of pathogenic microorganisms in environmental samples providing accurate instruments for their control. Moreover, the alarming increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also spreading through food, water, and other environmental sources, particularly in healthcare-associated settings, has been the focus of investigations aimed at defining appropriate tools and models for the protection of public health.

This Special Issue will focus on recent accomplishments in this field. The submission of manuscripts from microbiologists, biologists, clinicians, and/or epidemiologists is welcomed as interdisciplinary collaboration is the key to disease prevention.

Prof. Clementina Elvezia Cocuzza
Dr. Maria Luisa Ricci
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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 2300 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

  • bacterial pathogens
  • natural and artificial environmental habitats
  • human health
  • antibiotic-resistance
  • detection and prevention methods

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Microbiological, Health and Comfort Aspects of Indoor Air Quality in a Romanian Historical Wooden Church
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189908 - 20 Sep 2021
Viewed by 819
Abstract
Monitoring the indoor microclimate in old buildings of cultural heritage and significance is a practice of great importance because of the importance of their identity for local communities and national consciousness. Most aged heritage buildings, especially those made of wood, develop an indoor [...] Read more.
Monitoring the indoor microclimate in old buildings of cultural heritage and significance is a practice of great importance because of the importance of their identity for local communities and national consciousness. Most aged heritage buildings, especially those made of wood, develop an indoor microclimate conducive to the development of microorganisms. This study aims to analyze one wooden church dating back to the 1710s in Romania from the microclimatic perspective, i.e., temperature and relative humidity and the fungal load of the air and surfaces. One further aim was to determine if the internal microclimate of the monument is favorable for the health of parishioners and visitors, as well as for the integrity of the church itself. The research methodology involved monitoring of the microclimate for a period of nine weeks (November 2020–January 2021) and evaluating the fungal load in indoor air as well as on the surfaces. The results show a very high contamination of air and surfaces (>2000 CFU/m3). In terms of fungal contamination, Aspergillus spp. (two different species), Alternaria spp., Cladosporium spp., Mucor spp., Penicillium spp. (two different species) and Trichopyton spp. were the genera of fungi identified in the indoor wooden church air and Aspergillus spp., Cladosporium spp., Penicillium spp. (two different species) and Botrytis spp. on the surfaces (church walls and iconostasis). The results obtained reveal that the internal microclimate not only imposes a potential risk factor for the parishioners and visitors, but also for the preservation of the wooden church as a historical monument, which is facing a crisis of biodeterioration of its artwork. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
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Article
Antibiotic Susceptibility of Environmental Legionella pneumophila Strains Isolated in Northern Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9352; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179352 - 04 Sep 2021
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Legionella pneumophila is ubiquitous in aquatic environments and responsible for severe pneumonia in humans through inhalation of aerosol containing Legionella spp. Macrolides and fluoroquinolones are frequently used antimicrobials, but treatment failures are increasingly being reported. As susceptibility testing is not routinely performed, this [...] Read more.
Legionella pneumophila is ubiquitous in aquatic environments and responsible for severe pneumonia in humans through inhalation of aerosol containing Legionella spp. Macrolides and fluoroquinolones are frequently used antimicrobials, but treatment failures are increasingly being reported. As susceptibility testing is not routinely performed, this study aimed to determine the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) on 58 environmental Legionella pneumophila strains (24 of serogroup 1 and 34 of non-serogroup 1) isolated in Northern Italy. MICs of azithromycin, erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and rifampicin were determined by the microdilution method using buffered yeast extract broth supplemented with α-ketoglutarate (BYEα). Seventy-five percent of Legionella pneumophila isolates showed MIC values below the tentative highest MICs indicated by the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST); rifampicin was the most active agent with MIC90 values below 0.008 mg/L. Interestingly, one isolate was tested and found to be PCR-positive for the azithromycin LpeAB active efflux system, further confirmed by the reserpine/resazurin microtiter assay. In conclusion, this study has provided additional susceptibility data for environmental Legionella pneumophila isolates from Northern Italy demonstrating, in general, low MICs values for the tested antimicrobials, although one strain tested was shown to possess the LpeAB resistance determinant, indicating that future surveillance studies are warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
Article
Evaluation of an Environmental Transport Medium for Legionella pneumophila Recovery
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8551; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168551 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 502
Abstract
The collection and storage of water-related matrices such as biofilm from collection to processing are critical for the detection of Legionella pneumophila by cultural and molecular tests. SRK™ is a liquid medium that acts both as an antimicrobial neutralizing agent and a transport [...] Read more.
The collection and storage of water-related matrices such as biofilm from collection to processing are critical for the detection of Legionella pneumophila by cultural and molecular tests. SRK™ is a liquid medium that acts both as an antimicrobial neutralizing agent and a transport medium for bacterial culture enumeration and is useful to maintain the stability of the sample from collection to analysis. The aims of this study were to evaluate Legionella pneumophila viability and bacterial nucleic acids’ stability in SRK™ medium over time at different storage conditions. Artificial bacterial inoculates with an approximate concentration of 104, 103 and 102 CFU/mL were made using Legionella pneumophila certified reference material suspended in SRK™ medium. Bacteria recovery was analyzed by cultural and molecular methods at time 0, 24 and 48 h at room temperature and at 0, 24, 48 and 72 h at 2–8 °C, respectively. SRK™ medium supported Legionella pneumophila culture viability with CFU counts within the expected range. The recovery after 72 h at 2–8 °C was 83–100% and 75–95% after 48 h at room temperature. Real-time PCR appropriately detected Legionella pneumophila DNA at each temperature condition, dilution and time point. Results demonstrated a good performance of SRK™ medium for the reliable recovery of environmental Legionella. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
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Article
How Molecular Typing Can Support Legionella Environmental Surveillance in Hot Water Distribution Systems: A Hospital Experience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228662 - 21 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 887
Abstract
In this study, we aimed to associate the molecular typing of Legionella isolates with a culture technique during routine Legionella hospital environmental surveillance in hot water distribution systems (HWDSs) to develop a risk map able to be used to prevent nosocomial infections and [...] Read more.
In this study, we aimed to associate the molecular typing of Legionella isolates with a culture technique during routine Legionella hospital environmental surveillance in hot water distribution systems (HWDSs) to develop a risk map able to be used to prevent nosocomial infections and formulate appropriate preventive measures. Hot water samples were cultured according to ISO 11731:2017. The isolates were serotyped using an agglutination test and genotyped by sequence-based typing (SBT) for Legionella pneumophila or macrophage infectivity potentiator (mip) gene sequencing for non-pneumophila Legionella species. The isolates’ relationship was phylogenetically analyzed. The Legionella distribution and level of contamination were studied in relation to temperature and disinfectant residues. The culture technique detected 62.21% of Legionella positive samples, characterized by L. pneumophila serogroup 1, Legionella non-pneumophila, or both simultaneously. The SBT assigned two sequence types (STs): ST1, the most prevalent in Italy, and ST104, which had never been isolated before. The mip gene sequencing detected L. anisa and L. rubrilucens. The phylogenetic analysis showed distinct clusters for each species. The distribution of Legionella isolates showed significant differences between buildings, with a negative correlation between the measured level of contamination, disinfectant, and temperature. The Legionella molecular approach introduced in HWDSs environmental surveillance permits (i) a risk map to be outlined that can help formulate appropriate disinfection strategies and (ii) rapid epidemiological investigations to quickly identify the source of Legionella infections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
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Article
Phenotypic and Genotypic Characterization with MALDI-TOF-MS Based Identification of Staphylococcus spp. Isolated from Mobile Phones with their Antibiotic Susceptibility, Biofilm Formation, and Adhesion Properties
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3761; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17113761 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1077
Abstract
Cell phones, smartphones, and tablets are extensively used in social and professional life, so they are frequently exposed to bacteria. The main goal of the present work was to isolate and characterize Staphylococci strains from students’ cell phone mobiles. Subsequently, 24 Staphylococci strains [...] Read more.
Cell phones, smartphones, and tablets are extensively used in social and professional life, so they are frequently exposed to bacteria. The main goal of the present work was to isolate and characterize Staphylococci strains from students’ cell phone mobiles. Subsequently, 24 Staphylococci strains were tested against a wide range of antibiotics, for the distribution of some virulence-related genes and their ability to form biofilm. Staphylococcus spp. were cultured from all studied devices on chromogenic medium and identified using the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) technique (MALDI-TOF-MS). The results obtained showed that S. aureus was the dominant species (19 strains, 79.1%), followed by S. warneri (3 strains, 12.5%), and S. haemolyticus (2 strains, 8.3%). Isolated strains showed high percentages of hydrolytic enzymes production, resistance to many tested antibiotics, and 37.5% expressed the mecA gene. The tested strains were highly adhesive to polystyrene and glass and expressed implicated icaA (62.5%) and icaD (66.6%) genes. All Staphylococcus spp. strains tested were found to possess proteases and the α-hemolysin gene. Our results highlighted the importance of mobile phones as a great source of Staphylococcus spp., and these species were found to be resistant to many antibiotics with multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) index ranging from (0.444) to (0.812). Most of the studied strains are able to form biofilm and expressed many virulence genes. Phylogenetic analysis based on the phenotypic and genetic characters highlighted the phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity of the S. aureus population studied. Further analyses are needed to elucidate the human health risks associated with the identified Staphylococci strains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
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Brief Report
A Legionnaires’ Disease Cluster in a Private Building in Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6922; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136922 - 28 Jun 2021
Viewed by 534
Abstract
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) is a severe pneumonia caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. This is a major public health concern and infections are steadily increasing worldwide. Several sources of infection have been identified, but they have not always been linked [...] Read more.
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) is a severe pneumonia caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. This is a major public health concern and infections are steadily increasing worldwide. Several sources of infection have been identified, but they have not always been linked to human isolates by molecular match. The well-known Legionella contamination of private homes has rarely been associated with the acquisition of the disease, although some patients never left their homes during the incubation period. This study demonstrated by genomic matching between clinical and environmental Legionella isolates that the source of an LD cluster was a private building. Monoclonal antibodies and sequence-based typing were used to type the isolates, and the results clearly demonstrated the molecular relationship between the strains highlighting the risk of contracting LD at home. To contain this risk, the new European directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption has introduced for the first time Legionella as a microbiological parameter to be investigated in domestic water systems. This should lead to a greater attention to prevention and control measures for domestic Legionella contamination and, consequently, to a possible reduction in community acquired LD cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Bacterial Pathogens and Human Health)
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