A multi-country outbreak of Salmonella newport gastroenteritis in Europe associated with watermelon from Brazil, confirmed by whole genome sequencing: October 2011 to January 2012

International Outbreak Control Team

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In November 2011, the presence of Salmonella Newport in a ready-to-eat watermelon slice was confirmed as part of a local food survey in England. In late December 2011, cases of S. Newport were reported in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. During the outbreak, 63 confirmed cases of S. Newport were reported across all six countries with isolates indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis from the watermelon isolate. A subset of outbreak isolates were whole-genome sequenced and were identical to, or one single nucleotide polymorphism different from the watermelon isolate. In total, 46 confirmed cases were interviewed of which 27 reported watermelon consumption. Further investigations confirmed the outbreak was linked to the consumption of watermelon imported from Brazil. Although numerous Salmonella outbreaks associated with melons have been reported in the United States and elsewhere, this is the first of its kind in Europe. Expansion of the melon import market from Brazil represents a potential threat for future outbreaks. Whole genome sequencing is rapidly becoming more accessible and can provide a compelling level of evidence of linkage between human cases and sources of infection, to support public health interventions in global food markets.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2014

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