Public health officials in an Argentinian province have warned of an increase in Salmonella infections.

The Ministry of Public Health in Salta reported that, from January to November, 407 people with Salmonella infection were laboratory confirmed in the province. There have been 545 suspected cases since the beginning of 2020.

In the first months of 2020, a greater number of patients was observed. Then, between weeks 10 and 40, mostly isolated infections occurred. Since early October, 93 suspected cases were reported, of which 57 were confirmed.

The age range that has mostly contracted salmonellosis is between 20 and 44 years old followed by 5-9 year olds. Those older than 65 are the least affected.

Ongoing investigations
One hospital confirmed 13 cases of salmonellosis detected in late October with three other people under study for suspected infection.

The Ministry of Public Health recommends taking precautions when handling or eating food such as meat, eggs or fish and fresh fruits, salad and vegetables. Authorities are working together with teams in the provinces and municipalities on actions, preventive measures and investigation of cases.

The incidence rate of salmonellosis in Salta is usually higher from mid-September to the end of February. Argentina’s summer months are from December to February.

Bacteriological analysis of water sources is ongoing to determine if there is any relationship between water consumption and infection. Unannounced sanitary controls and inspections in food sites in the downtown area have also been carried out. Students at the National University of Salta are doing an analysis of the situation in regard to street vendors.

INFOSAN regional meetings
Meanwhile, the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is running training opportunities, including webinars, to provide orientation to new members, help form regional strategies to prioritize issues and strengthen communication among members.

The network, operated by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, has scheduled a webinar for Dec. 10 and 11 for members in the Americas including representatives from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Colombia.

Officials from the National Service for Food Safety and Quality (SENASA) will represent Argentina at the seventh regional meeting which is being conducted virtually. Topics to be discussed include achievements and challenges of INFOSAN; use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) for antimicrobial resistance in the food sector; COVID-19; and country perspectives.

In late November, a session took place for European member states and Central Asia in which participants talked about key features of food safety incidents and emergency responses in their respective regions, procedures to engage with INFOSAN as well as opportunities to identify foodborne pathogens, the most frequent cause of food safety incidents.

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