Almost 50 people are ill in France as part of a foodborne outbreak linked to eating a brand of unpasteurized, raw milk sheep’s cheese.

A spokeswoman from Santé publique France told Food Safety News that Salmonella Enteritidis was responsible for 49 illnesses and one person needed hospital treatment.

Those ill are men and women, mostly adults between 22 and 94 years old, but five children were infected. The patients live in five different regions of the country.

The first patients were reported in early June with the most recent reported illness in early July. Two incidents of food poisoning with isolates of Salmonella Enteritidis in patients were declared via mandatory declaration by regional health authorities in Center-Val-de-Loire.

Patients were asked about food consumption and the Salmonella strains isolated from their stools were sent to the National Reference Center of Salmonella at the Institut Pasteur for typing.

All these people had eaten sheep cheese and checks on the cheeses revealed the presence of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Product recall and international distribution
In mid-July, French firm GAEC Froidevaux Cornuet withdrew products from sale as tests detected Salmonella and the epidemiological link to potential human illness.

Implicated raw milk sheep’s cheese with the name “Pur brebis du Lochois” was sold between May 20 and July 20 this year.

Products were sold directly on the farm, at the Loches market in Indre-et-Loire and at retailers or wholesalers who distributed them at national level.

French authorities advised anyone who had the products not to consume them and to return items to the point of sale where they were purchased.

Distribution also included Austria, Germany and Spain as well as possibly the Netherlands. In Germany, some of the cheese has use-by dates in August and September.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection usually appear 12 to 72 hours after infection, and include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

The illness can last four to seven days but most people recover without treatment. Symptoms may be more serious in young children, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly.

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