Further cases of a strain of Salmonella are likely to be reported as the outbreak continues in Europe with no control measures yet in place, warned two European agencies.
EFSA said an outbreak of Salmonella Stanley involving 167 confirmed and 254 probable cases is on-going in several Member States of the EU.
It added the information gathered through the public health, food and veterinary investigation strongly suggested that the turkey production chain is the source of the outbreak but the contribution of other sources, such as beef, pork and broiler meat cannot be ruled out.
EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) were asked for joint scientific and technical assistance on the possible source of the on-going outbreak of Salmonella Stanley infection by the European Commission.
The European agencies were asked to provide the advice given the rarity of the Salmonella type but stress the importance of putting this incident into the context of the 100,000 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU each year.
The ECDC said from 1 August 2011 to 14 September 2012, 402 cases of S. Stanley have been reported on the Epidemic Intelligence Information System (EPIS) suggesting a “multinational outbreak related to a common persisting source of infection”.
Additional cases ‘likely’
EFSA said as control measures have not yet been implemented to remove the source of infection and potential food vehicles from the market, it is likely that additional human cases of S. Stanley infections will be reported in EU Member States.
“As cases do not have travel history outside the EU in the usual incubation period for salmonellosis, these findings strongly suggest a multi-state outbreak with exposure currently taking place in several countries in the EU,” said an update to a risk assessment published in July.
“However, epidemiological investigation of three large clusters of cases suggested a link with consumption of turkey. In Hungary, turkey meat stored in a fridge with a food vehicle eaten by cases, tested positive for S. Stanley and is also suspected epidemiologically as the vehicle of the outbreak.”
In June this year, Belgium reported a significant increase of human cases of infection in 2012 and Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovak Republic and the UK have since reported confirmed cases sharing an undistinguishable profile with the outbreak strain.
Investigations identified an indistinguishable XbaI-PFGE fingerprint and a common resistance to nalidixic acid among S. Stanley isolates originating from turkeys and turkey meat.
In addition, isolates with indistinguishable Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns were also detected in some cases from broiler flocks (breeding and fattening) and meat from other animal species (broiler meat, beef and pork).
The update said further information on the trace-back and trace-forward of food items will be necessary to understand and assess the risk associated with the outbreak to help prevent further human cases.
Read the update HERE