Eight people are part of a Salmonella outbreak in Ireland linked to pork from Romania. Five of them were admitted to hospitals. Infected people also have been identified in other countries.
One person was sickened by Salmonella Bredeney in August 2018. The other seven people fell ill between May 4 and June 3, this year. Those stricken are six adult males and two children who are siblings. There have not been any deaths.
Pork product recall
In mid-July, Andromi Toba de Casa 500-gram packages with a use-by date of Aug. 4 and with the lot number 17 from Romania were recalled because of the presence of Salmonella. The chilled cooked pork preparation is sold in Polonez stores throughout Ireland.
A spokeswoman from the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland told Food Safety News that the Salmonella strain in the recalled food product was the one identified in people who have been infected in the outbreak.
“However, the batch of food product that was tested did not cause illness in the people who are sick as part of this outbreak, as it was produced at the end of June 2019, after the most recently ill person in the outbreak developed symptoms.”
A multi-disciplinary outbreak control team was established to investigate with representatives from regional Departments of Public Health, HSE-Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the reference laboratory, Public Health Laboratory, Environmental Health Services and Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
In a statement to Food Safety News, FSAI officials said several lines of inquiry are being followed.
“The FSAI was informed by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre of an outbreak of foodborne illness in Ireland caused by Salmonella Bredeney. A multi-agency, multi- disciplinary Outbreak Control Team (OCT) was established and is chaired by the HPSC. FSAI is a part of the OCT which is investigating the outbreak and following various lines of inquiry, including potential links with products from Romania. The investigation is ongoing.”
Timeline of outbreak
The outbreak control team has linked with public health and food safety authorities in Romania and European agencies because some cases have been identified in other EU countries. Distribution of the product also included the United Kingdom and the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is involved.
“The HSE’s National Salmonella Reference Laboratory service found that the genetic sequence of Salmonella from three different people who were ill due to Salmonella at about the same time were almost exactly the same,” said the HSE spokeswoman.
“The reference laboratory brought this to the attention of the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, who alerted regional departments of public health. In a short period after this first alert the reference lab found a number of other Salmonella with the same genetic sequence. On review of reference lab records, one case from 2018 was also identified with the same sequence.
“Where language barrier is an issue in patient interviews, the HSE has access to an interpreter service. This service was used to interview some cases associated with this outbreak.”
Only zero to five cases of this serotype of Salmonella have been recorded annually in Ireland from 2010 to 2018.
“However the full genetic sequence gives a lot more detail than the serotype. Salmonella of this serotype with this exact genetic sequence has not been detected in Ireland other than in the recent cases, the case in 2018 and the food product,” said the HSE spokeswoman.
Information about Salmonella infections
Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated pork products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized.
Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.
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