Barriers to trace-back in a salad-associated EHEC outbreak, Sweden, June 2013

In June-July 2013, six counties notified the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control of enterohaemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) infections among attendees at a hotel in Dalarna, Sweden. An outbreak control team investigated to identify the source and implement control measures.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145We included individuals who attended the hotel between June 19th-25th in a cohort. We asked them about animal contact, swimming, and consumption of food items during this time using a questionnaire. A confirmed case was an EHEC O157:H7 outbreak strain positive individual who developed abdominal pain or diarrhoea between June 20th-July 2nd. We described the outbreak in time, place and person, calculated risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). We investigated the kitchen, tested and traced back implicated food items.

172 individuals responded. We identified 19 confirmed cases (Median age: 17 years, 64% female) with symptom onset between June 22nd-27th. Eating green salad on June 20th was associated with illness (RR:3.7;CI:1.3–11). The kitchen mixed green salads without records and destroyed leftovers immediately. Hence we could not conduct trace-back or obtain microbiological confirmation.

Green salad contaminated before entering the kitchen was the likely outbreak source. We recommended early collaboration with food agencies and better restaurant records to facilitate future investigations.

PLOS Currents Outbreaks

Michael Edelstein, Camilla Sundborger, Maria-Pia Hergens, Sofie Ivarsson, Rikard Dryselius, Mona Insulander, Cecilia Jernberg, Yvan Hutin, Anders Wallensten

http://currents.plos.org/outbreaks/article/barriers-to-trace-back-in-a-salad-associated-ehec-outbreak-sweden-june-2013/