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Large Salmonella outbreak linked to melons

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Melons have been linked to a Salmonella Braenderup outbreak that has affected 200 people in more than 10 countries.

Patients have been reported in Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland. Illnesses started in late March.

Czech Republic and Spain have also recorded recent Salmonella Braenderup infections but it is not yet clear if they belong to this outbreak.

Three melon types from 3 countries implicated
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported that the source is thought to be whole honeydew, cantaloupe and galia melons from Costa Rica, Honduras or Brazil.

Galia melon

Most UK retailers are believed to have stocked the affected melons bought on or before May 28 but they have now been removed from sale.

In the UK, 52 people fell sick between March 29 and April 28. In total, 33 females and 19 males aged 0 to 88 years old are affected.

Public Health England, Food Standards Scotland and other UK health protection and food safety agencies are part of the ongoing investigation.

One person is ill in Canada with symptom onset of March 8. The 53-year old male has no history of travel.

Consumers can identify the country of origin from a sticker on the fruit. If people are not sure about where the galia, cantaloupe or honeydew melon came from they are advised not to eat it.

Tina Potter, head of incidents for the Food Standards Agency, said: “As a precaution we are advising people not to eat these melons and to dispose of them. It is important that consumers wash their hands and any surfaces that have been in contact with the melons thoroughly. This will help avoid the risk of cross contamination and the risk of illness.”

Country specific situations
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is supporting an international outbreak investigation.

“This is a rapidly evolving international outbreak with more than 200 cases of Salmonella Braenderup. There is a predominance of women among the cases. Given the extent of cases within but also outside of the EU, it is likely to be a food item with a wide geographical distribution.”

The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) has been following the multi-national outbreak since May 10.

Honeydew melon

Denmark identified 27 people with Salmonella Braenderup infections between March 26 and April 28. Nineteen are female and eight male, ranging from 1 to 90 years of age. They are geographically spread and have not travelled outside of the country.

Norway has five cases between April 13 and 26 in a nursing home. Four are female aged from 77 to 93 years old and three are a confirmed match with the outbreak strain.

Sweden has 22 patients between April 13 and May 1 with 17 females and five males aged 0 to 91 years old.

Belgium has 42 infections with four confirmed between March 23 and May 5. Thirty are female with those sick ranging from 1 to 97 years old.

Thirteen patients live in the Netherlands. Six are female, three are male with an age range of 4 to 84 years old.

Five people are sick in Finland with three confirmed between April 13 and May 2. Three are females and two are males aged 44 to 75 years old.

One man is affected in France.

There are four patients in Ireland since March 30.

Germany has 49 cases of which 13 are confirmed since March 30 with 23 females and 12 males sick. The age range of those affected is from 1 to 79 years old.

In the Czech Republic, four cases have been reported between March 22 and April 29. They are three females and one male aged 1 to 40 years old.

Two cases in Spain from February 28 and April 9 are in infants, 2 and 5 months old.

Switzerland has 15 cases with 12 confirmed between March 24 and May 7. Twelve are females and three males from 7 months to 87 years of age.

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