A multicountry Salmonella enteritidis ST11 outbreak linked to chicken and chicken kebab products since January has sickened at least 335 people from 14 European Union countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced today.
In early June, Danish officials identified an illness cluster linked to eating chicken, followed by reports of illnesses from other European countries with samples that matched the Danish strain. In late July, Denmark identified a distinct strain, also linked to chicken consumption, followed by reports of a matching strain isolated from several other European countries.
In early August, Austria reported a cluster of related infections involving another distinct strain, including a report of a patient who had consumed a chicken kebab before he or she got sick. In the following weeks, other European countries reported illnesses involving the same strain.
There was only one case from the United States, which was part of the second cluster and involved a patient who had eaten chicken in Spain.
The trace-back investigation suggests that seven producers in Poland and one in Austria may have sourced the products, but microbiologic tests haven’t turned up the outbreak strain at the facilities.
In a rapid risk assessment, the ECDC and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said the cases belong to three distinct microbiologic clusters. Nine people were hospitalized, and one death was reported in Austria. Officials in Austria, Denmark, and Italy tested 10 food products, finding contamination with the outbreak strain in 6, which included contaminated chicken kebabs.
The ECDC said more investigations are needed to identify the source of the infections, and it warned that further cases are likely in the prolonged multicountry outbreak.