Oct 12, 2004 (CIDRAP News) Lettuce has been implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella infection that has involved more than 350 cases in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
The United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed 368 cases of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport infections in England and Northern Ireland, according to an Oct 7 report in CDR Weekly, the HPA's communicable disease bulletin. Another 14 cases were confirmed in Scotland.
Case-control studies in Lincolnshire and Northern Ireland linked the infections with the consumption of lettuce, the report said. Food histories collected in England, the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland pointed to fast-food and takeout restaurants as the source of contamination, the article said. Thirty-three people were hospitalized.
Dr. Bob Adak of the HPA said only about 150 cases of S Newport infection occur in the UK in a normal year, according to a report by The Independent newspaper. The increase in cases prompted increased testing, which showed that the Salmonella strains were the same, he said. He added that the HPA and the Food Standards Agency were collaborating to identify where in the supply chain the food was contaminated.
Patients reported illness onsets from Aug 21 to Sep 25, according to CDR Weekly. The report said molecular typing of 122 S Newport isolates showed that 109 of them were identical and also matched isolates from the 14 cases in Scotland.
Adak told The Independent that while its possible the foods that caused the outbreak have left the food supply, its important to identify them. Lettuce was determined to be the culprit in a national outbreak of S Newport cases in 2001, the newspaper said.