‘Unusual’ increase of infection with Salmonella strain

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nuts is one food source linked to past outbreaks
Nuts is one food source linked to past outbreaks
An ‘unusual’ increase in the number of Salmonella Mikawasima infections has been found in European Union (EU) countries since September 2013, according to a report.

It is part of a gradual increase in infections since 2009 in European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA), said the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

However, the agencies admitted that they do not know yet if cases are linked or the source of the problem but the increase across several countries suggests a common exposure.

EFSA and ECDC recommended a multi-sectorial investigation to understand and assess the risk associated with the increasing trend of S. Mikawasima infections.

Microbiological investigations through whole genome sequencing should provide further evidence to find a common source of infection.

UK case increase

From 2007 to 2012, 671 human cases of S. Mikawasima were reported from EU and EEA countries to the European Surveillance System (TESSy).

Analysis of the S. Mikawasima cases reported for Q1 and Q2 2013 showed a significant peak in May (11 cases) compared to the historical average of 3.6 cases, largely due to reports by the UK (9/11 cases).

The UK (75 cases), Denmark (11), Germany (9) and Sweden (6) all reported unusual increases at the national level from September – November 2013.

PFGE-typing of a subset of human isolates from UK and Denmark yielded indistinguishable profiles, suggesting a link between the cases but the low discriminatory power does not allow firm conclusions to be drawn, said the agencies.

History of strain

An Urgent Inquiry (UI) was posted by Denmark in 2012 on the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for Food- and Waterborne Disease and Zoonoses (EPIS-FWD), reporting a possible outbreak which Norway responded to, also noting a marked increase in cases.

During 2004—2012 (including some data from 2013), 120 isolates of the serovar were reported from food, feed and animals.

There were some mostly single isolations from food sources, such as vegetables, sausages meat and nuts.

One outbreak of S. Mikawasima causing human gastroenteritis caused nine cases in October 1992 in the UK with epidemiological investigations identifying doner kebabs as a probable source.

Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) database reports one notification in 2005 for S. Mikawasima presence in frozen squid tentacles from India, said the agencies report.

Related topics: Industry news

Related news

Show more

1 comment

Simple solutions. Difficult implementing change

Posted by Vic Cherikoff,

There is clearly a problem with existing sanitizers used in many industries. The reality is that chlorine might reduce micro loads 2-log, if that and just a water wash will do the same. If more companies were motivated to explore the new natural products (and I must divulge that I developed Herbal-Active as a food sanitizer) there would be fewer disease outbreaks. Herbal-Active has been shown to drop micro loads by over 7-log with just a simple dip and drain. No need to rinse this food flavour away.

However, it continues to be a difficult road to travel, introducing companies to change from their poorly performing chemicals to a new and far more effective product. Supermarkets claim to be dedicated to offering fresh produce but do process any, they just unpack cartons.

Growers of potentially contaminated products take some care as recalls are expensive but additional steps in the supply chain are avoided. The approach that using a natural sanitizer also extends the shelf life adds a new benefit and this appeals to supermarkets as they gain a greater window of opportunity for sales. You'd think that extending the seasonal supply of some produce such as berries and stone fruits, soft skinned vegetables, herbs and greens etc would appeal to growers but I have been told that if their produce dies quickly, they sell more the next day.

So much for food security, safeguarding our health and conservation of limited resources.

Report abuse