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Euro Surveill. 2009 Mar 12;14(10). pii: 19147.

An outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, 2008.

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  • 1Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. Tone.Bruun@fhi.no


In November-December 2008, Norway and Denmark independently identified outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium infections characterised in the multiple-locus variable number of tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) by a distinct profile. Outbreak investigations were initiated independently in the two countries. In Denmark, a total of 37 cases were identified, and multiple findings of the outbreak strain in pork and pigs within the same supply chain led to the identification of pork in various forms as the source. In Norway, ten cases were identified, and the outbreak investigation quickly indicated meat bought in Sweden as the probable source and the Swedish authorities were alerted. Investigations in Sweden identified four human cases and two isolates from minced meat with the distinct profile. Subsequent trace-back of the meat showed that it most likely originated from Denmark. Through international alert from Norway on 19 December, it became clear that the Danish and Norwegian outbreak strains were identical and, later on, that the source of the outbreaks in all three countries could be traced back to Danish pork. MLVA was instrumental in linking the outbreaks in the different countries and tracing the source. This outbreak illustrates that good international communication channels, early alerting mechanisms, inter-sectoral collaboration between public health and food safety authorities and harmonised molecular typing tools are important for effective identification and management of cross-border outbreaks. Differences in legal requirements for food safety in neighbouring countries may be a challenge in terms of communication with consumers in areas where cross-border shopping is common.

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