Nearly 100 salmonellosis cases linked to European eggs

It’s been a tough year for European egg shoppers. Millions of eggs were recalled in several countries after the harmful insecticide fipronil was discovered after the eggs were widely distributed to supermarkets. Seven countries have also reported salmonellosis outbreaks stemming from eggs.

At least 96 cases have recently been reported from Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with more than 30 probable cases also reported. The specific strain reported is Salmonella Enteritidis.

Earlier in the year, 14 countries confirmed 280 cases, with 257 probable-yet-unconfirmed cases. Food Quality News reports that in the prior four years, over 100 cases were confirmed, two fatal, with around 24 probable ones.

Investigations linked last year’s outbreaks to a farm in Poland, and cases dropped after sanitation measures were taken at the implicated facility. It’s still uncertain where the latest outbreaks came from.

Whole genome sequencing

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that the two confirmed cases fit in with two whole genome sequencing (WGS) groups, called Cluster_175 and Cluster_360.

WGS is a way of collecting data about Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens, like Listeria, Campylobacter and E. coli. It allows researchers to glean genetic information about a specific strain of bacteria. With the information gathered, outbreak investigators can track locations where the same pathogens have been found, forming links between where each strain appears. This makes it easier to trace back towards the source of any given outbreak.

About Salmonella Enteritidis

S. Enteritidis is one of the biggest concerns for poultry producers. The bacteria can contaminate eggs even if infected hens seem fine, and can pass on to humans via poultry meat or through undercooked or raw eggs.

In humans, the pathogen causes salmonellosis, a disease that is characterized by fever, cramps and diarrhea within 12 to 72 hours after contamination. Within 4 to 7 days, symptoms usually disappear without treatment, but severe cases are more likely to impact the very young, elderly, and immunocompromised. Serious cases may require antibiotic treatment or hospitalization to prevent the infection from spreading through the body.

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