Officials in Denmark are investigating a Salmonella outbreak with 32 cases and 19 hospitalizations. Initial information points to fresh pork as the source.

Infections with Salmonella monophasic Typhimurium have been reported to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) since mid-October. Salmonella monophasic Typhimurium is often found in pigs.

The outbreak was discovered on Nov. 16 and is being investigated by SSI, DTU Food Institute and Fødevarestyrelsen (Danish Veterinary and Food Administration).

Fourteen women and 18 men aged zero to 86 years who live across the country are affected. No deaths have been recorded. None of the reported cases are relatives, nor do they know each other or been to a common event. Hovedstaden has 10 cases, Midtjylland has nine, Sjælland has seven, Nordjylland has five and there is one case in Syddanmark.

The bacterium Salmonella monophasic Typhimurium (O: 4.5,12; H: i, -) is resistant to ampicillin, sulfamethoxazole and tetracycline. Whole genome sequencing has found the strains are closely related and identified by sequence-type 5296.

Luise Müller, an epidemiologist at SSI, told Food Safety News the serotype is common in Denmark but the sequence type is new and has not been seen in Denmark before.

“We have interviewed cases and we are currently doing a case control study where we also compare with the food history of people who have not been ill. The advice is to cook pork meat properly and keep raw meat and ready-to-eat food separate,” she said.

Müller also said Denmark has no Salmonella cases identical to the Dutch Salmonella Goldcoast outbreak, which is also linked to pork. She said nothing points towards a shared source for the two outbreaks.

The last major outbreak of Salmonella monophasic Typhimurium in Denmark was in 2014 and involved 25 cases. It was also nationwide and the source of infection was believed to be Danish pork.

Meanwhile, the Danish parliament has passed a law to try and eradicate Salmonella Dublin in the country. The law tightens the requirements for Danish cattle owners. Every year about 25 consumers get ill from Salmonella Dublin and in the cattle farms, it causes less milk, as well as miscarriages and deaths among animals.

Denmark has special guarantees regarding Salmonella in table eggs in European regulation and Danish produced chicken meat is also free from Salmonella.

The law comes after several years of government and industry efforts that have made progress but failed to eradicate Salmonella Dublin. The number of infected consumers has almost halved from 44 in 2002 to 25 in 2017.

Economic gain for the industry by eradicating Salmonella Dublin is estimated at 23 million to 28 million Danish Krone per year ($3.5 million to $4.3 million).

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