French authorities are investigating 50 Salmonella infections to see if they are related while they try to find a common source.

The National Reference Center (CNR) for Salmonella at the Institut Pasteur has identified 50 cases of salmonellosis with very similar genetic characteristics since June.

Sante publique France and the Directorate General for Food (DGAL) confirmed to Food Safety News that they are investigating the Salmonella Enteritidis cases to identify whether all the patients, or some of them, have been infected from a common food source.

Investigation findings so far
Strains were isolated from patients between June 21 and Aug. 2. There are 23 women and 27 men affected aged from 0 to 86 years old. Sick people live in 10 different regions of France with the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region being the most affected with 23 patients.

Eight patients were hospitalized but have all now been discharged and there are no deaths to date.

Patients have been asked about what they ate and places of food purchases in the week before onset of their symptoms. For foods consumed by a number of people, traceability investigations are started to identify possible distributors, suppliers, or common producers.

Currently, officials are looking at several avenues concerning different types of food.

One line of enquiry has seen the DGAL request information from Spanish authorities about a chicken egg packing center in Spain which is thought to have supplied the places of purchase or egg or egg products cited by three cases.

However, authorities said at this stage, it was not possible to point to a product or to have strong suspicions about a specific food as being the source of infection and investigations are ongoing.

Meanwhile, French authorities have also issued a warning about Campylobacter in frozen, cooked, minced chicken from Poland. A child was hospitalized in July and the pathogen was detected in his stool sample.

About Salmonella
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. 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 developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning 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 require hospitalization.

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. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)