Public health officials in a Spanish region have reported six confirmed Salmonella infections.

Surveys and epidemiological work by Castilla y León Public Health have shown the outbreak could have been caused by the consumption of tortillas in two establishments in Soria. A Spanish tortilla also called a Spanish omelet can contain herbs, spices, potatoes, and eggs.

The product was cooked at one of these sites and part of it was transferred, once prepared, to the second.

Two children and four adults are affected. The two young people went to the Santa Bárbara Hospital and were then transferred to Burgos University Hospital, where they were admitted to the pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Two women and two men between 31 and 51 years old are also sick. All of them needed hospital treatment. One person is in ICU and the other three appear to be recovering.

The Public Health Veterinary Services is carrying out inspections to verify the hygienic and sanitary conditions in which the items consumed by these patients were produced and the way in which they were transferred to the second establishment.

COVID impact on food outbreaks in Andalucía
Meanwhile, food poisoning cases more than halved in Andalucía this past year with the drop attributed to measures put in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Figures come from La Consejería de Salud y Familias (The Ministry of Health and Families) which published the epidemiological surveillance of foodborne diseases in 2020.

Officials said the influence that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the annual evaluation of foodborne infections was “very clearly and directly demonstrated” due to mask-wearing, restrictions on the population, less travel, frequent handwashing, and closure of food premises.

The number of outbreaks in 2019 was 248 while the figure in 2020 was 101. In total, 3,585 people were affected in 2019 compared to 829 patients in 2020. Salmonellosis continued to be the most common causative agent in outbreaks followed by norovirus.

The seasonal pattern in 2020 also showed a significant variation in previous years. A decrease was seen in April and May, and the highest number occurred in June to August. Past years saw an upward trend until October but it decreased in 2020. However, there was a noticeable rise in December, possibly coinciding with the easing of COVID-19 measures.

Based on data on the place of preparation of the contaminated food vehicle; 22 outbreaks each were linked to private homes and restaurants followed by bars and cafeterias.

Confirmed and suspected foods most frequently linked to outbreaks included eggs and food made from egg products, fish, shellfish, and bivalve mollusks, meat and meat products, and sauces.

Factors contributing to incidents included preservation of food at room temperature, food preparation too far in advance, poor cleaning of kitchen utensils, cross-contamination in the kitchen, insufficient refrigeration of food, or infected food handlers.

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