Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Salmonella outbreak spreads to Sweden and France


DR MUIRIS HOUSTON, Medical Correspondent


Source of Article:  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/0819/1218868120742.html

THE SALMONELLA outbreak possibly linked to a meat plant in Co Kildare has now spread to Sweden and France, bringing to five the number of European Union countries affected.

The latest figures for the outbreak of salmonella agona, released last night, show some 132 people have now been infected by the bug. Sweden has reported its first two cases, while France has confirmed one person has been infected by the relatively rare strain of the bacterium.

There has been one death linked to the salmonella outbreak. A 77-year-old British woman died from complications thought to be associated with the infection.

The genetic fingerprint of the microbe has been linked to a particular production line at the Dawn Farm Foods plant in Naas.

Of the 132 people with salmonella-induced food poisoning, some 125 have the same genetic fingerprint as samples taken from the meat plant. Final test results are awaited on a further seven cases.

Dawn Farm Foods decided to close the entire plant for a week last Friday. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said yesterday that this decision was the company's own and not based on specific advice from the authority.

Responding to weekend reports that the particular type of salmonella agona identified as the cause of the outbreak had been found in a river in Scotland, the authority said the investigation was ongoing.

"We are continuing to look at all possible sources, but at the moment the only company implicated is Dawn Farm Foods," the authority added.

The food production company said it was the responsibility of EU authorities to track down other sources for the outbreak "should they exist".

A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said a water specimen taken from a Scottish river contained the exact same strain of salmonella but it had subsequently been established that the microbe had originated in a sewage outlet and was therefore the result rather than the cause of the outbreak.

Of the 132 people who have become sick as a result of salmonella agona infection, some 76 cases have been identified in England with Scotland reporting 31 cases. Eleven people in the Republic are now known to have been affected, with four of these requiring hospital treatment. Finland, France and Sweden are the other EU states where cases have been found.

The European Centre for Disease Control has reported that the Finnish case arose after the person ate beef strips contained in a sandwich.

As a result of the outbreak, beef strips, chicken, lamb and pork supplied to at least eight European countries and to Kuwait have been withdrawn by Dawn Farm Foods.



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