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Epidemiol Infect. 2009 Mar;137(3):326-34. doi: 10.1017/S0950268808001829. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

Outbreaks of Shigella sonnei infections in Denmark and Australia linked to consumption of imported raw baby corn.

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Department of Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We investigated an outbreak of Shigella sonnei infections in Denmark and Australia associated with imported baby corn from one packing shed in Thailand. We reviewed nationwide surveillance and undertook case finding, food trace-back and microbiological investigation of human, food and environmental samples. A recall of baby corn and sugar snaps was based on descriptive epidemiological evidence. In Denmark, we undertook a retrospective cohort study in one workplace. In total, 215 cases were laboratory-confirmed in Denmark, and 12 in Australia. In a multivariable analysis, baby corn was the only independent risk factor. Antibiotic resistance and PFGE outbreak profiles in Denmark and Australia were indistinguishable, linking the outbreaks. Although we did not detect S. sonnei in baby corn, we isolated high levels of other enteric pathogens. We identified a packing shed in Thailand that supplied baby corn to Denmark and Australia, and uncovered unhygienic practices in the supply chain. This outbreak highlights the importance of international communication in linking outbreaks and pinpointing the source.

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