Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Between 14 September and 20 October 2007, an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 simultaneously occurred in the Netherlands and Iceland. A total of 50 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported with a STEC O157 infection caused by the same clone. The strain was of type O157:H-, PT8, positive for stx, stx, eae and e-hly, and sorbitol negative. The most probable cause of this international outbreak was contaminated lettuce, shredded and pre-packed in a Dutch food processing plant. Samples of the environment, raw produce and end products, taken at several vegetable growers and processing plants all tested negative for STEC O157. However, the only epidemiological link between the cases in the Netherlands and in Iceland was the implicated Dutch processing plant. In Europe, food products are often widely distributed posing the risk of potential spread of food borne pathogens simultaneously to several countries. This international outbreak emphasises the importance of common alert and surveillance systems in earlier detection of international outbreaks and better assessment of their spread.


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