Outbreak report Open Access
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Salmonella enterica is a common cause of gastrointestinal illness in Italy. S. Typhimurium accounts for approximately 40% of isolates, and most of these strains belong to the phage type DT104. We describe the investigation of an outbreak of S. Typhimurium DT104A, a subtype never observed before in Italy, which occurred in Rome during spring 2004. We conducted a matched case control study between 24 July and 9 September 2004. Controls were matched for age and area of residence. Each case had between one and four controls. Odds of exposure to potential risk factors and vehicles for the outbreak were compared between cases and controls. A multivariate analysis was conducted to estimate adjusted Odds Ratios. Sixty-three cases of S. Typhimurium DT 104A infection with onset between 1 April and 5 May 2004 were identified. Sixty-one were residents of Rome and two were residents of a neighbouring region. Twenty-six cases (43%) were enrolled in the study. Their median age was 7.5 years. Fourteen of 26 cases and 16 of 62 controls had eaten pork salami (OR= 25.5; 95% CI 1.6- 416.8). No food samples were available for testing. In northern Italy, two months prior to the outbreak, the veterinary surveillance system identified the first isolation of S. Typhimurium DT104A in a pig isolate. Both human and pig isolates showed indistinguishable PFGE patterns. It was not possible to trace the pig after the sample was taken at slaughter. The epidemiological evidence on the implication of pork salami in this outbreak suggests that pork products can also be a vehicle for salmonella in Italy and underlines the importance of good manufacturing practices for ready-to-eat foods. This investigation highlights the value of laboratory-based surveillance in identifying community-wide outbreaks of uncommon pathogens. It also underlines the need to improve surveillance timeliness, for promptly detecting outbreaks, undergoing field investigation, and implementing control measures. Moreover, our study shows the usefulness of integrated human and animal surveillance in tracing the possible source of infection.


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