Virulence genes expressed in Salmonella are a primary contributing factor leading to the high morbidity and mortality of salmonellosis in humans. The pathogenicity of Salmonella is mainly determined by the specific virulence factors that it carries. These factors also confer greater virulence and play a role in infection of a host and transmission of disease, and most Salmonella enterica can cause cross-infections between humans and animals. In this study, 265 samples in total were collected from a farmer's market and two supermarkets in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, China, including 205 pork samples and 60 chicken samples. The suspected Salmonella isolates were isolated and identified using microbiological and molecular methods, and the confirmed isolates were used for serovar analysis and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. The virulence genes of Salmonella pathogenic islands (SPIs) and Salmonella virulence plasmids (Spv) in Salmonella-positive isolates were subsequently detected. Salmonella was isolated from 29.0% of samples, and all isolates were confirmed by PCR targeting the stn gene. Among the Salmonella isolates, resistance was most frequently observed against ciprofloxacin (84.4%), followed by tetracycline (71.4%) and streptomycin (68.8%). Resistance to amoxicillin–clavulanic acid (6.3%) and aztreonam (5%) was less commonly detected. The presence of the following virulence genes was determined by specific PCRs: hilA (SPI-1), sifA (SPI-2), misL (SPI-3), siiE (SPI-4), sopB (SPI-5), and spvC. The detection rate for SPI-1 to SPI-5 was 93.5, 87.0, 97.4, 97.4, and 97.4%, respectively. In addition, the detection rate of the spvC gene was 96.1%. Except for sopB (94.7%), all isolates of the dominant serovar S. enterica subsp.. enterica serovar Enteritidis contained all virulence genes from SPI-1 to SPI-5. This study demonstrated the epidemiological status of Salmonella in raw meat products in Xuzhou, and the complex antibiotic resistance and high isolation rate of virulence genes observed reveal many potential risks of which the findings presented herein will provide orientation to improve public health safeguards.

  • Seventy-seven Salmonella strains were isolated from 265 raw meat products in Xuzhou, China.

  • Salmonella Enteritidis is the dominant serotype in raw meat products in Xuzhou.

  • Many isolates (96.1%) were found to contain spvC.

  • Many Salmonella isolates (94.8%) exhibited MDR.

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