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National outbreak of Salmonella Newport



Investigations are continuing into a recent increase in cases of Salmonella Newport infection across the UK.

 
The Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections identified 30 S. Newport cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the beginning of December 2011; three of these cases are from Wales. This figure compares to 10, 12, and 11 cases over the same period in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. An additional five cases have been reported from Scotland and four from the Republic of Ireland. Authorities in Germany have also confirmed 15 cases within the same time period.
 
The 30 cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ranged in age from six months to 85 years. One person has died although they had serious underlying health complications. Seventy per cent of cases were women with the East of England having more cases than other regions.
 
Although investigations are ongoing, the HPA state that early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon. This has also been noted in the cases in Germany and Scotland.
 
In November 2011, the HPA isolated and profiled (using Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis PFGE) a strain of S. Newport from a ready-to-eat sliced water melon fan. In late December 2011, Health Protection Scotland reported four cases of S. Newport with the same PFGE profile as from the watermelon. All 30 cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland have also been laboratory confirmed as having S. Newport with the same PFGE profile.
 
Salmonella Newport is one of a number of strains of salmonella bacteria that can cause illness in humans.
 
Symptoms can include watery and sometimes bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fever. The majority of patients with infections caused by salmonella do not require specific treatment and make a full recovery although the advice of a health professional should be sought in all cases of severe diarrhoea and hospital treatment may be necessary. If infection spreads from the intestines to the blood stream, prompt hospital treatment with certain antibiotics is required. 
 
The HPA states that although the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low, as the reported cases only represent a very small proportion of total consumption, it is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness. Advice on the safe preparation, storage, cooking and handling of food is available from the webpage Food Safety and Hygiene 
 
Further information about this outbreak is available from the HPA website at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/ and the Food Standards Agency website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/
 
Surveillance data for salmonella in Wales is available from this website at: http://howis.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=457&pid=24730  
 
 

Source: Public Health Wales Health Protection Division