E.coli sickens 38 people with link to salad
By Joe Whitworth, 08-Sep-2015
E.coli linked to prepacked salads has sickened 38 people in the UK, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The agency said there is also one probable case and four possible ones for which results are pending. Onset dates for confirmed and probable cases range from 29 July to 12 August.
Investigations to determine the exact source and cause of contamination are ongoing.
FoodQualityNews has contacted PHE to find out more information so will update this article when the agency responds.
Verocytotoxigenic E.coli (VTEC) serotype O157 phage type 8 vero-toxin type 2a were found to be genetically clustered by whole genome sequencing (WGS) and to share the same SNP address.
Analysis of enhanced VTEC questionnaires found that 33 of 38 confirmed members of the cluster ate pre-packed salad and that 19 of these had purchased the salad at the same supermarket chain.
A survey with 24 confirmed cases indicated the most common exposures were to two salad products from one supermarket chain which share one ingredient.
Traceback has identified one packer/distributor which is supplied by three farms. Samples are being collected from the supermarket chain outlets visited by cases, the distributor/packer and from the supply farms, said PHE.
In England, the majority of confirmed cases (seven each) are from Anglia and Cheshire and Merseyside, with 14 additional Health Protection Teams across the country also affected and reporting between one and three cases each. Most are female aged 18 to 73 years.
Meanwhile, the agency has provided an update on the cyclospora outbreak associated with travel to Mexico ongoing since 1 June . As of 2 September, 69 cases have been reported in England, Scotland and Wales, of which 39 are confirmed by a reference laboratory. Six cases in England are awaiting travel history information.
Where information is known, cases have been to hotels and resorts on the Riviera Maya coast of Mexico, most of which have their own water supply, suggesting the source is likely to be a food product distributed to several hotels, said PHE.
The latest known date of onset of illness is 7 August but onset dates are awaited for 11 cases in England, so it is unclear if the outbreak is still ongoing.
“The UK travel industry is aware of the outbreak and tour operators have been given information about cyclospora in order increase awareness of the infection among travellers to Mexico. Investigations into the cause of the outbreak by Mexican health authorities are ongoing,” said PHE.
Cyclospora infection from 30 states has sickened 495 people in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cluster investigations in Wisconsin and Texas have preliminarily identified cilantro as a suspect vehicle. Previous outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to imported fresh produce, including cilantro from the Puebla region of Mexico.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is investigating 92 cases of Cyclospora infections in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec.
Cyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people's feces. If it comes in contact with food or water, it can infect the people who consume it. This causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.
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