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More than 1,000 sick in Dutch salmonella outbreak

By Joe Whitworth , 26-Oct-2012

An outbreak of Salmonella linked to smoked salmon ‘appears to be over’ according to the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) after sickening more than 1,000 people.

The outbreak of salmonella Thompson has seen at least 1,026 confirmed cases in the Netherlands from distributor Foppen and has been linked to three deaths.  

Foppen, which processes fish in the Netherlands and at a factory in Greece, is investigating the cause of the outbreak.

A spokesman for the Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), in the Netherlands told FoodQualityNews.com no cases have been recorded after the recall date so they believe the outbreak has come to an end.

Speaking about the latest figures release yesterday, he said: “There were 76 patients in the week, in total we have confirmed 1,026 but the figure of people actually affected is likely to be higher.

“Last week our laboratory tests showed 950 illnesses, the week before that it went from 550 to 950, so 400 cases.

“The increase of 76 means we believe the outbreak is now under control and seems to be decreasing.”

How the contamination happened is still being investigated by the producer, supervised by the NVWA but it has been linked to a tainted production line in Greece.

Between 2 August and 19 October 866 cases were confirmed with 36% being hospitalised.

As normally around four cases of SalmonellaThompson are seen in the Netherlands per year, an outbreak investigation was started.

Identify source

A spokesman for the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (DVWA) told this publication their job was to investigate the possible source of salmonella outbreak.

“We found there was a high probability it was smoked salmon and our task is to force them to perform the recall.

“We then monitor the recall to see that it is correct and especially with the outbreak in humans and causing them to be hospitalised, and inform people about the risks associated with eating the affected product,” he said.

“It is too early in the process and we are still awaiting another government agency to assess how the process went, we’ll see when that is done but it is too early for now for conclusions but we are happier now that the number of cases are going down.”

On 26 September, the NVWA held an inspection at this fish production site and took samples from different batches of smoked salmon products

Salmonella Thompson was confirmed in four of nine batches of smoked salmon from the producer, Foppen. A recall of all concerned smoked salmon products was executed starting on 28 September

In the US, a cluster of salmonellaThompson infections with a PFGE pattern indistinguishable from the current outbreak strain is being investigated, said a joint RIVM and NVWA report.

The ongoing investigation has not identified a connection between the US cluster and the current Dutch outbreak or a connection with the consumption of fish.

The US Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) did not respond to our request for further information before deadline.

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