Norwegian officials have named the suspected source of an E. coli outbreak that affected 15 people.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said the same type of E. coli O26:H11 had been detected in all those infected.

Two hamburger products that are the likely source of the ongoing outbreak have been recalled.

In August, it was reported that six people across the country were sick.

Five HUS cases
In an update this past week, FHI said people fell ill in July and August. Patients range in age from under 5 to 55 years old. Eight live in Trøndelag, four in Viken, two in Vestfold og Telemark and one in Nordland.

Five people have developed the serious condition hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a severe complication associated with E. coli infections that causes kidney failure.

Health officials interviewed people about what they ate before getting sick and have looked at purchase details and receipts from their food purchases.

Based on this information, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) has started traceback work which suggests hamburger products may be the source of infection.

Product recall
Nordfjord Kjøtt has withdrawn frozen Hamburger Classic, 800-gram, with best before dates of March 24 and March 25, 2024, and Big Beef Burger Thick and Juicy, 360-gram, with a best before date of July 16, 2023 from sale.

Products have been sold at Rema 1000 stores. They have been removed from the market but officials are concerned that consumers could still have them at home in their freezers.

The outbreak investigation is continuing with the aim to establish with certainty that the products are the cause of infections. It cannot be ruled out that other items will be recalled.

Vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems should not eat lightly or medium cooked burgers.

When grinding meat, bacteria on the surface can be distributed throughout the product. If ground, or minced, meat is not cooked sufficiently, the bacteria in the middle will be able to survive. Good kitchen hygiene and correct heat treatment will prevent people from getting sick from the recalled products.

The source of another E. coli O157 outbreak reported in June remains unknown. This outbreak affected six people but no-one developed serious illness. Two people fell ill in October and November 2022, while the remaining four became sick in February, March and May this year. They are between the ages of 14 and 49, and five are men.

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