New salmonella outbreak infects four people in Ireland
AN OUTBREAK of salmonella linked to watermelons which has claimed the life of one person in England has infected four people in Ireland, the Food Safety Authority has said.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland today said that following the confirmation of four reported cases of Salmonella Newport in Ireland it is carrying out an investigation into the potential source of infection.
It also confirms that the Food Standards Agency in the UK is investigating an outbreak caused by the same strain of infection where about 30 cases have been reported in England and Wales, and a number of cases in Scotland and Germany since December 2011.
Of the cases confirmed so far, 26 have been in England, four have been in Ireland, three have been in Wales and one has been in Northern Ireland. 15 have been confirmed in Germany. The ages of people affected in England, Wales and Northern Ireland range from six months to 85 years.
Investigations into the source of the infections are continuing, however early indications suggest a possible link with watermelon. The most recently reported illness in Ireland was at the beginning of January.
A spokesperson for the Food Safety Authority Ireland said: “All indications suggest that there is no longer contaminated product on the market. The FSAI would advise anyone who feel unwell after eating watermelon to consult their doctor as a precautionary measure.”
The strain of salmonella found is called ‘salmonella Newport’. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. Most cases resolve within four to seven days.
The person who died in the UK, who has not been named, had “serious underlying health complications”, the UK’s Health Protection Agency has said.
The food safety watchdog advised consumers to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at the HPA in the UK, said that early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon.
“This has also been noted in the cases in Scotland and Germany although further investigation is ongoing,” he said.
“It’s important to remember the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low. These 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.
Salmonella Newport has been found in many different foods in previous outbreaks - the largest one was in 2004 and was associated with the consumption of lettuce at restaurants and takeaways.