(RxWiki News) Identifying the source of the recent salmonella outbreak has proved challenging. Scientists, however, have managed to identify the multi-drug resistant strain.
Known as S. Kentucky, the strain, which is spread through poultry, has infected 489 patients in France, England and Wales between 2000 and 2008.
"Continue to ensure turkey is cooked thoroughly."
Dr. François-Xavier Weill and Dr. Simon Le Hello, study leaders from the Pasteur Institute in France, and their research team studied data from national surveillance systems in France, England, Wales, Denmark and the United States. They found that the initial infections were primarily acquired in Egypt between 2002 and 2005.
The lack of reported international travel in about 10 percent of cases suggests infections also may have occurred in Europe by eating contaminated foods. The strain was isolated in chickens and turkey from Ethiopia, Morocco and Nigeria. The common use of antimicrobial fluoroquinolones to prevent E. coli is believed to have helped it spread rapidly.
About 1.7 million salmonella infections occur in North America each year. Symptoms of infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most can recover without treatment within a week, but many cases are treated with antibiotics, though this strain is highly resistant to many of the traditionally used medications.
Dr. Le Hello said he is hopeful that the research will bring awareness among national and international health, food and agricultural authorities so that they will take steps to control and stop the strain before it spreads globally like another strain of salmonella did in the 1990s.
In an accompanying editorial, Craig Hedberg from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health said that the ability to integrate public health surveillance is limited by differences in national surveillance systems. He said that given the medical costs and public health impact associated with the outbreak, the potential benefits of such a system should far outweigh the cost.
The research is published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.