Cucumber from Spain is suspected source of Salmonella Agona outbreak in Norway, Sweden


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In a follow-up to an outbreak of Salmonella aguna in NorwayAnd the Sweden Health authorities in the Netherlands and Norway have reported the results of an investigation into the outbreak showing that certain batches of cucumbers from a Spanish supplier stand out as a possible source of infection. These quantities of cucumbers are no longer on the market, and therefore we could not test the product for the bacteria of the outbreak, says Heidi Lange, senior advisor at the Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI).

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The outbreak may have ended, but we cannot rule out that more individual cases will emerge. She says we are following the situation closely.

In total, there are 72 people living across the country who have been diagnosed with the gastrointestinal bacterium Salmonella Agona. All of them contracted salmonellosis during a short period, from the end of October to the beginning of December, with a peak at week 45 and 46. Cases with the same strain of the outbreak were also reported in Sweden and the Netherlands in the same period.

Heidi Lang says the suspicions were directed at an imported food product that is available all over the country, has a relatively short shelf life and is common for many people to eat.

The Public Health Institute analyzed more than 50 patient interviews and purchase information. The institute also conducted a case-control study to compare what the sufferers ate with what a random group of other people ate. Almost 90 percent of those affected reported eating cucumbers in the week prior to their illness, but since cucumbers are popular in Norway, this product does not appear in the case-control study. In turn, this study helps to refute other hypotheses as a source of infection in this outbreak.

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In addition, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority conducted extensive tracing work where certain batches of cucumbers from a Spanish supplier were identified as the most likely source of infection.

The investigation into the outbreak was carried out in collaboration with the municipality’s chief medical officers, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Veterinary Institute.

The age of the injured ranged from 1 to 88 years, the average age was 36 years, and 37 of the injured were women. 24 of the injured were taken to hospital.

Bacteria with the same genetic variant were found in 58 of the 72 infected people. For the remaining 14 patients, the sequencing results (lab test results) are not yet clear.

People live in Viken (18), Vestland (15), Vestfold, Telemark (14), Oslo (8), Innlandet (5), Rogaland (3), Trøndelag (3), Troms, Finnmark (3), Møre and Romsdal ( 2) and Nordland (1). It is the only Agder district that has no infected people registered in the outbreak.

Salmonella agona is a rare type of salmonella, both in Norway and the rest of Europe.

Salmonella aguna was previously detected in Norway, but then only as isolated cases and often linked to infection abroad.

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