Officials in Austria are investigating three different outbreaks caused by Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) reported the source of the Salmonella outbreak has been identified but the vehicle of infection for the E. coli and Listeria outbreaks are still unknown.

In the Salmonella outbreak, 235 people are ill who live in Styria, Lower Austria, Vienna, Burgenland, Tyrol, Carinthia, Upper Austria and Salzburg. The source was found to be eggs from an unnamed Polish producer.

Mitigation measures

People in Austria have contracted Salmonella Enteritidis with the Multi Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat (MLVA) pattern 3-10-5-4-1 since mid-June.

This MLVA profile has previously been identified in two packing centers in Hungary and Austria as part of investigations into a different outbreak that has been ongoing since 2012 but is also linked to eggs from Poland. In this other outbreak, more than 1,400 cases have been reported from 18 countries.

Authorities in Austria have withdrawn the eggs still in circulation, implicated products have also been recalled by wholesalers and destroyed. They were not available in retail stores in the country.

Results of the investigation were sent to EU member states to identify possible further illnesses in other countries and so measures could be taken to eliminate the source and prevent other illnesses.

Based on a Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert, eggs that caused the outbreak in Austria were also sent to Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia.

Listeria and E. coli outbreaks

For the Listeria outbreak, five people have fallen ill since May 24 in the federal states of Carinthia, Styria and Vienna.

Patients have an identical Listeria monocytogenes strain cluster type 1234 and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST)-ST155.

AGES reported the occurrence of disease in three federal states indicates a foodborne outbreak but it remained unclear as to what has caused illnesses.

In the Vero cytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) outbreak, six people have been affected since April and two needed hospital treatment.

The strain of VTEC, also known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), had not previously been reported in Austria. There is no indication on the source of the outbreak as yet.

The O157: H7 clone had not been found in humans, animals or food until this incident, which suggests a foodborne disease outbreak across several federal states, according to AGES.

Investigations into all the foodborne outbreaks were carried out by AGES, the Federal Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection (BMASGK) and state authorities.

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