Salmonella Agona outbreak in Norway

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The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, or Folkhälsomyndigheten (FHI), has discovered a national outbreak caused by the gastrointestinal bacterium Salmonella Agona. So far, 31 people living in several provinces have been found infected. The source of infection is currently unknown.

photo/CDC

The FHI has launched an investigation into the outbreak in collaboration with the municipality’s chief medical officers, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Veterinary Institute.

All 31 people were diagnosed with the infection in November 2022. They ranged in age from 1 to 84, the median age was 31, 18 of them were women. Bacteria with the same genetic profile were detected in 3 of the patients. For the 28 infected patients, the sequencing results (lab test results) are not yet clear.

People live in Westland (11), Viken (8), Telemark and Vestfold (5), Inlandet (2), Trøndelag (2), Troms, Finnmark (1), Møre and Romsdal (1) and Oslo (1). Thirteen of the infected were hospitalized for salmonellosis. Typical symptoms are diarrhoea, headache, abdominal pain, nausea and possibly fever. Salmonella bacteria are mainly transmitted through food.

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Salmonella agona is a rare serotype of Salmonella in Norway and the rest of Europe, so based only on the serotype and the fact that the samples were taken in November, we assume with great certainty that the infected people belong to the outbreak, says senior adviser at FHI Heidi Lang.

The number of people hospitalized due to this outbreak is high, but we have no indication that this type of salmonella causes more severe disease than other types of salmonella. Perhaps this is an expression of the fact that it’s people who are hospitalized who get caught, and people with milder infections don’t see a doctor, Lang says.

She adds that salmonella infections usually go away on their own without treatment.

The source of infection is currently unknown, but it is common for gastrointestinal bacteria to become infected through food. The FHI is collaborating with the municipal health service, microbiological laboratories, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Veterinary Institute to determine if infected people may have a common source of infection.

People diagnosed with strep live in 8 counties. So it is possible that they could be infected through a food product that is distributed throughout the country. Lang says they are now being interviewed to assess whether they have a common source of infection.

– It is too early to say if this is a limited outbreak or if it will expand in scope, and whether we will be able to find the source of the infection. She adds that we are following the situation closely.

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

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