Norway has reported 13 human Salmonella infections over three years linked to the feeding and handling of snakes.
Similarly, officials in the UK have reported almost 850 people have fallen ill with Salmonella infections in an outbreak that was first investigated in 2015.
The National Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet) in Norway said the latest Salmonella Enteritidis infection as part of the national outbreak was from a sample taken in September this year.
Whole genome sequencing of patient samples has shown the same Salmonella type, meaning they likely share a common source of infection. This same type has also been found in a snake analyzed by the Veterinary Institute.
Officials said those who have snakes, or other reptiles as pets, should take precautions and always wash their hands with soap and water after handling and feeding them to avoid getting sick with salmonellosis.
The incident in Norway is caused by the same variety of Salmonella Enteritidis behind an outbreak in the United Kingdom related to Salmonella-infected rodents used as food for reptiles.
The National Institute of Public Health has interviewed 12 of the 13 people infected with Salmonella and eight of them had either direct or indirect contact with snakes. However, four reported no contact with snakes or reptiles.
The agency and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) are investigating what feed reptile owners have used and which supplier it comes from.
UK also affected
Almost 850 people have fallen ill with Salmonella in the UK outbreak that was first investigated in 2015.
Feeder mice from Lithuania and distributed by Monkfield Nutrition Limited across all four nations in the UK were mentioned in a recent warning by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Public Health England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Animal and Plant Health Agency and FSA have updated guidance on reducing the risks of Salmonella infection from reptiles.
A 2016 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) assessment revealed Denmark had three related Salmonella cases sampled in 2014, 2015 and April 2016. However, it was not known if patients had contact with snakes or feeder mice.
Netherlands and Norway were also considered to be affected by the outbreak. The Lithuanian rodent farm also distributed frozen feeder mice in Germany and Poland.
Salmonella can be found in the intestines of many animals. Reptiles can be carriers of the bacteria without showing any symptoms of disease and spread it to humans.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)