Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium that can cause gastrointestinal or oropharyngeal tularemia in humans from ingestion of contaminated food or water. Despite the potential for accidental or intentional contamination of foods with F. tularensis, there are few studies on the long-term survivability of this organism in food matrices. Infant formula has previously been implicated as a vehicle for the transmission of a variety of bacterial pathogens in infants. In this study, we investigated the survival of F. tularensis in dehydrated infant formula under various storage conditions. F. tularensis was stored for up to 12 weeks in dehydrated infant formula in an ambient air, dry or nitrogen atmosphere. Viable counts of fresh F. tularensis at 12 weeks in infant formula revealed a 4.15, 3.37 and 3.72-log decrease in ambient air, dry and nitrogen atmosphere, respectively. D-values were calculated (in weeks) as 3.99, 4.68 and 4.47 in air, dry and nitrogen atmosphere, respectively.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain (F. tularensis LVS), a promising vaccine candidate for protection against F. tularensis exposure, is a particularly thermolabile vaccine and difficult to stabilize sufficiently for storage under refrigerated conditions. Our preliminary data show that F. tularensis LVS can be stabilized in the dried state using foam drying, a modified freeze drying method, with sugar-based formulations. The process was conducted under mild drying conditions, which resulted in a good titer retention following processing. The inclusion of osmolytes in the growth media resulted in an acceleration of growth kinetics, although no change in osmotolerance was observed. The optimized F. tularensis formulation, which contained trehalose, gelatin, and Pluronic F68 demonstrated stability for approximately 1.5 weeks at 37°C (i.e., time required for the vaccine to decrease in potency by 1 log(10) colony forming unit) and for 12 weeks at 25°C. At refrigerator storage condition (4°C), stabilized F. tularensis LVS vaccine exhibited no activity loss for at least 12 weeks. This stabilization method utilizes conventional freeze dryers and pharmaceutically approved stabilizers, and thus can be readily implemented at many manufacturing sites for large-scale production of stabilized vaccines. The improved heat stability of the F. tularensis LVS could mitigate risks of vaccine potency loss during long-term storage, shipping, and distribution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Powdered infant formula has previously been linked to the transmission of various bacterial pathogens in infants resulting in life-threatening disease and death. Survival studies of 2 common foodborne pathogens, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and Shigella dysenteriae, in powdered infant formula have not been previously studied despite the potentially devastating consequences from ingestion of these organisms, particularly by newborns, in case of a natural or deliberate contamination event. Therefore, to better predict the risk of S. Typhi and S. dysenteriae infection from consumption of infant formula, the present study was undertaken to determine survival of these microorganisms in dry infant formula under varying atmospheric conditions. A 2-strain cocktail of S. Typhi and a 3-strain cocktail of S. dysenteriae were stored for up to 12 wk in dehydrated infant formula in an ambient air or nitrogen atmosphere. Viable counts of S. Typhi at 12 wk in infant formula revealed a 2.9- and 1.69-log decrease in ambient air and nitrogen atmosphere, respectively. Viable counts of S. dysenteriae at 12 wk in infant formula revealed a 0.81- and 0.42-log decrease in ambient air and nitrogen atmosphere, respectively. These results show that S. Typhi and S. dysenteriae can remain viable for prolonged periods of time in powdered infant formula, and the presence of nitrogen enhances survival. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Our goal in this work was to study the survival of S. Typhi and S. dysenteriae in dehydrated storage conditions in infant formula. This interest is partially generated by the possibility of using these 2 microorganisms to deliberately contaminate the food supply. The outcome of this study will help us to have a better idea how to respond and react to the risk of deliberate food contamination.
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