Explained: What is Salmonellosis? An outbreak triggered by Belgian chocolates
New Delhi, Apr 29: The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that there have been more than 150 suspected cases of salmonellosis after the United Kingdom notified global health organisation of a cluster of cases with monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium sequence type 34 infection.
Investigations linked the outbreak to chocolate produced in Belgium, which have been distributed to at least 113 countries. Children under 10 have been most affected - comprising some 89 per cent of cases - and available data indicates that nine patients were hospitalised. There have been no fatalities.
"The risk of spread in the WHO European region and globally is assessed as moderate until information is available on the full recall of the products," the UN agency said in a statement.Genetic sequencing of the salmonella bacteria which sparked the food scare showed that the pathogen originated in Belgium. "At least 113 countries" across Europe and globally have received Kinder products during the period of risk, WHO said, adding that salmonella bacteria matching the current human cases of infection were found last December and January, in buttermilk tanks at a factory run by chocolate makers Ferrero, in the Belgian city of Arlon.
What is salmonellosis? Here's what WHO says
Salmonellosis is a disease caused by nontyphoidal Salmonella bacteria. While approximately 2,500 serotypes have been identified, the majority of human infections are caused by two serotypes of Salmonella: Typhimurium and Enteritidis.
Salmonellosis is characterized by acute onset of fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be bloody as reported in most of the cases in the current outbreak. The onset of symptoms typically occurs 6-72 hours after ingestion of food or water contaminated with Salmonella, and illness lasts 2-7 days. Symptoms of salmonellosis are relatively mild and patients will make a recovery without specific treatment in most cases. However, in some cases, particularly in children and elderly patients, the associated dehydration can become severe and life-threatening.
Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals, such as poultry, pigs, and cattle; and in pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles such as turtles. Salmonella can pass through the entire food chain from animal feed, primary production, and all the way to households or food-service establishments and institutions. Salmonellosis in humans is generally contracted through the consumption of contaminated food of animal origin (mainly eggs, meat, poultry, and milk). Person-to-person transmission can also occur through the faecal-oral route.
Prevention requires control measures at all stages of the food chain, from agricultural production, to processing, manufacturing and preparation of foods in both commercial establishments and at home.
General prevention measures for the public also include: handwashing with soap and water in particular after contact with pets or farm animals, or after having been to the toilet; ensuring food is properly cooked; drinking only pasteurized or boiled milk; avoiding ice unless it is made from safe water; washing of fruits and vegetables thoroughly.