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Deadly salmonella outbreak in Europe is linked to eggs from Spain

The outbreak has left 272 people ill, some 25 people needing hospital care and two deaths

ÁLVARO SOTO

Two European Union agencies have issued warnings about a large outbreak of salmonella detected in six countries that is linked to eggs from Spain.

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Food Safety Authority (ECDC and EFSA) said the outbreak has already left 272 people ill, some 25 people needing hospital care and two deaths. The outbreak is still ongoing but the Spanish suppliers have not been identified.

According to the EFSA, “On 2 September 2021, France reported an increase in Salmonella Enteritidis ST11 infections. By 11 January 2022, 272 confirmed cases had been reported in five European Union and European Economic Area.

“Some cases reported in France in 2021 had visited restaurants serving eggs distributed by a common supplier, Spanish Packing Centre A. The eggs originated from three Spanish farms, one testing positive for the outbreak strain. Fresh table eggs from the farms linked to the outbreak were withdrawn and redirected for use in heat-treated egg products. No other countries received eggs from the same farms via Packing Centre A during summer 2021. Therefore, the source of infection for cases in late 2021 and in countries other than Spain and France could not be established.

“This 2021 outbreak is linked microbiologically to a historical cross-border outbreak reported by the Netherlands in 2019. Eggs consumed by cases in the Dutch outbreak were traced back to a Spanish farm, but it was not possible to identify an epidemiological link with the 2021 outbreak. This suggests a wide distribution of the outbreak strain that could affect the food supply chain and/or earlier steps in the production chain. There may be multiple heterogeneous sources of S. Enteritidis ST11, and the outbreak strain could also be circulating at other farms, inside or outside Spain.

“The risk of new infections caused by the outbreak strain and contaminated eggs remains high in the EU/EEA. It is therefore important to foster cross-sectoral investigations of contaminations in the egg supply chain in countries where S. Enteritidis ST11 has been detected,” the EFSA added.