Outbreak report Open Access
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In September 2005, the first national food-related outbreak of Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 was investigated in the Netherlands. A total of 21 laboratory-confirmed cases (including one secondary case), and another 11 probable cases (two primary and nine secondary cases) were reported in patients who became ill between 11 September and 10 October 2005. Preliminary investigation suggested consumption of a raw beef product, steak tartare (in the Netherlands also known as 'filet américain'), and contact with other symptomatic persons as possible risk factors. A subsequent case-control study supported the hypothesis that steak tartare was the source of the outbreak (matched odds ratio (OR) 272, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3 - 23211). Consumption of ready-to-eat vegetables was also associated with STEC O157 infection (matched OR 24, 95% CI 1.1 – 528), but was considered a less likely source, as only 40% of the cases were exposed. Samples of steak tartare collected from one chain of supermarkets where it is likely that most patients (67%) bought steak tartare, all tested negative for STEC O157. However, sampling was done three days after the date of symptom onset of the last reported case. Since 88% of the cases became ill within a two week period, point source contamination may explain these negative results. It is concluded that steak tartare was the most likely cause of the first national food-related outbreak of STEC O157 in the Netherlands.


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