The first report of Listeria monocytogenes detected in pinnipeds

Johanna L. Baily, Gavin K. Paterson, Geoffrey Foster, Nicholas J. Davison, Lineke Begeman, Ailsa J. Hall, Mark P. Dagleish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to describe the pathology in seals from which Listeria monocytogenes was isolated and investigate if the lesions’ nature and severity were related to the phylogeny of isolates. L. monocytogenes was isolated from 13 of 50 (26%) dead grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) pups, six (12%) in systemic distribution, on the Isle of May, Scotland. Similar fatal L. monocytogenes-associated infections were found in a grey seal pup from Carnoustie, Scotland, and a juvenile harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) in the Netherlands. Whole genome sequencing of 15 of the L. monocytogenes isolates identified 13 multilocus sequence types belonging to the L. monocytogenes lineages I and II, but with scant phenotypic and genotypic antimicrobial resistance and limited variation in virulence factors. The phylogenetic diversity present suggests there are multiple sources of L. monocytogenes, even for seal pups born in the same colony and breeding season. This is the first description of L. monocytogenes isolated from, and detected in lesions in, pinnipeds and indicates that infection can be systemic and fatal. Therefore, listeriosis may be an emerging or overlooked disease in seals with infection originating from contamination of the marine environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
Early online date10 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Bacterial genome sequencing
  • Neonatal mortality
  • Seals
  • Septicaemia


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