Eurosurveillance today reports an outbreak of Shigella dysenteriae type 2 infections during May-June 2009 in Sweden, involving 47 suspected cases of whom 35 were laboratory-confirmed.
The epidemiological investigation based on interviews with the patients pointed at sugar snaps from Kenya as the source. Shigella was not detected in samples of sugar snaps. However, Escherichia coli was confirmed in three of four samples indicating contamination by faecal material.
During April to May 2009 outbreaks with Shigella connected to sugar snaps from Kenya were reported from Norway and Denmark. In the three countries trace back of the indicated sugar snaps revealed a complex system with several involved import companies and distributers. In Sweden one wholesale company was identified and connections were seen to the Danish trace back. These three outbreaks question whether the existing international certification and quality standards that are in place to prevent products from contamination by faecal pathogens are strict enough.
No, they’re not.