Danish authorities have revealed three people died in an E. coli outbreak this past year. Imported spring onions were investigated as the source.

An update by the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) revealed that from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2021, 85 people were infected with EIEC.

Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) is usually associated with travel diarrhea but the patients had not been abroad.

It was previously reported that 68 people were ill in the outbreak linked to spring onions from Egypt via a Dutch supplier that were used in ready-to-eat salads.

Link to spring onions
Sick people lived all over the country, except for Nordjylland. They included 56 women and 29 men aged less than 1 to 91 years old. The median age was 52. Three deaths were linked to the outbreak and 25 people were hospitalized.

Sjælland had the most patients with 29, Hovedstaden had 23, Midtjylland had 21 and 12 were from Syddanmark.

The Statens Serum Institut, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and DTU Food Institute found the source of infection was spring onions in salads sold in three different retail chains in November 2021.

Interviews of patients found several of them had eaten the salads and purchasing data showed they were bought from Nov. 15 to 30, 2021.

Enteroinvasive E. coli was isolated from 36 patients and the remaining 47 were PCR positive for a gene specific to Shigella species and EIEC.

Further analysis identified two E. coli types in the outbreak: O136:H7 and O96:H19 with confirmation by whole genome sequencing.

E. coli O157 outbreak update
Meanwhile, an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 in the country appears to be over, according to public health officials.

The outbreak began in December 2021 and included 14 patients with a likely common source of infection, said the Statens Serum Institut.

Ten people were hospitalized and an elderly patient died. Three children also developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal complication of E. coli infection.

Four men and 10 women between the ages of 2 and 90 with a median age of 45 were affected.

The Statens Serum Institut, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and DTU Food Institute officials were unable to find a source for the infections.

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