SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported more than 150 suspected cases of Salmonellosis, a bacterial intestinal disease that has affected people in Europe and the United States.
This follows a month of warnings from UK regulators about a cluster of Salmonella typhimurium cases.
WHO’s statement notes that by 25 April, “a total of 151 genetically related cases of S. Typhimurium suspected to be linked to the consumption of the implicated chocolate products have been reported from 11 countries.”
The countries include Belgium (26), France (25), Germany (10), Ireland (15), Luxembourg (1 case), the Netherlands (2), Norway (1 case), Spain (1 case), Sweden (4), the United Kingdom (65) and the United States of America (1 case).
While 150 of the 151 known cases have been reported in Europe, one case has been reported in the United States of America, and there is a chance that more cases will be reported from other countries due to the widespread distribution of the products during the Easter holiday.
The pathogen originated in Belgium, according to genetic sequencing of the Salmonella bacteria that caused the food scare, and is reported to have been distributed globally to over 113 countries and territories across all WHO Regions.
During the risk period, “at least 113 countries” in Europe and around the world received Kinder products. According to a WHO statement, the outbreak strain of Salmonella is resistant to six types of antibiotics.
Children under 10 have been most affected – comprising some 89 per cent of cases – and available data indicates that nine patients were hospitalized. There have been no fatalities associated with the outbreak so far.
“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.
Strauss Group, an Israeli food company, expanded its voluntary recall of chocolate products on Wednesday after traces of salmonella were discovered at its plant in northern Israel, according to Reuters.
According to Israeli media, a number of children and adults have sought medical attention in recent days for Salmonella.
Salmonellosis disease and its transmission
Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the non-typhoidal bacteria Salmonella. Salmonella, named after the American veterinarian who assisted in the discovery of the bacteria, Daniel Elmer Salmon, causes mild illness but can be fatal in severe cases.
According to WHO, approximately 2,500 serotypes have been identified, with Typhimurium and Enteritidis serotypes causing the majority of human infections.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, it is most commonly transmitted to humans through eating food contaminated with the feces of an infected animal (CDC).
This frequently occurs when people consume raw or undercooked food, such as meat and eggs, or when people who work with food fail to wash their hands. Unwashed fruits and vegetables can become infected less frequently.
The type of bacteria consumed and the amount consumed determine whether or not a person contracts salmonellosis, an infection caused by Salmonella.
While food is responsible for 94% of salmonellosis transmission, contact with chicks and pet turtles can also be a source of infection, according to the CDC.
Symptoms and treatment
Salmonellosis is characterized by acute fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be bloody as in most of the current cases of infection.
Symptoms typically begin between six and 72 hours after ingestion of food or water contaminated with Salmonella, and sickness can last from two to seven days.
A healthy adult usually recovers in a few days, but infections can be dangerous or even fatal in some cases.
Babies, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable.
According to the CDC, people suffering from severe diarrhea may require rehydration.
“Antibiotics are not recommended for uncomplicated cases and are only used if the infection spreads or is highly likely to spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and other organs,” it added.
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