Salmonellosis – United Kingdom

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200 people in more than 10 countries have been infected with Salmonella Braenderup, causing gastroenteritis, after consuming melon.

Patients have been reported in Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland. Illnesses started in late March.

Czech Republic and Spain have also recorded recent Salmonella Braenderup infections, but it is unclear if they come from the same source.

Three melon types from 3 countries implicated. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) reports that the source is thought to be whole honeydew, cantaloupe and galia melons from Costa Rica, Honduras or Brazil.

In the UK, 52 people fell sick between March 29 and April 28. In total, 33 females and 19 males aged 0 to 88 years old are affected. One person is ill in Canada with symptom onset of March 8. Denmark identified 27 people with Salmonella Braenderup infections between March 26 and April 28. Nineteen are female and eight male, ranging from 1 to 90 years of age. Norway has five cases between April 13 and 26 in a nursing home. Four are female aged from 77 to 93 years old and three are a confirmed match with the outbreak strain. Sweden has 36 patients between April 4 and May 15 with 29 females and seven males aged 0 to 95 years old. Belgium has 42 infections with four confirmed between March 23 and May 5. Thirty are female with those sick ranging from 1 to 97 years old. Thirteen patients live in the Netherlands. Six are female, three are male with an age range of 4 to 84 years old. Five people are sick in Finland with three confirmed between April 13 and May 2. Three are females and two are males aged 44 to 75 years old. One man is affected in France. There are four patients in Ireland since March 30. Germany has 49 cases of which 13 are confirmed since March 30 with 23 females and 12 males sick. The age range of those affected is from 1 to 79 years old. In the Czech Republic, four cases have been reported between March 22 and April 29. They are three females and one male aged 1 to 40 years old. Two cases in Spain from February 28 and April 9 are in infants, 2 and 5 months old. Switzerland has 15 cases with 12 confirmed between March 24 and May 7. Twelve are females and three males from 7 months to 87 years of age.

Consumers can identify the country of origin from a sticker on the fruit. If people are not sure about where the galia, cantaloupe or honeydew melon came from they are advised not to eat it.

Photo: Salmonella (red) invading human cells.

Infection with salmonella in developed countries generally results in food poisoning. The organisms enter through the digestive tract and must be ingested in large numbers to cause disease in healthy adults. Between 60% to 80% of salmonella infections cases go un-diagnosed.

Risk factors for salmonella infections include a variety of foods. Meats such as chicken and pork have the possibility to be contaminated. A variety of vegetables and sprouts may also have salmonella. Lastly, a variety of processed foods such as chicken nuggets and pot pies may also contain this bacteria.

Salmonella was first visualized in 1880. The name Salmonella was not used until 1900.

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