Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 21 outbreak in Austria, 2005.Euro Surveill. 2006; 11(2):67-9.ES
We report an outbreak of gastroenteritis due to Salmonella Enteritidis PT 21 associated with attending an annual traditional fair in a small Austrian village on 4 May 2005. The outbreak lasted from 4 to 8 May. Descriptive and analytical epidemiological investigations were conducted in order to determine the extent of the outbreak and to identify outbreak risk factors. Of the 115 persons who visited the fair, 85 persons fulfilled the criteria of an outbreak case (attack rate = 73.9%). Stool specimens from 52 patients, including two kitchen staff, were tested for salmonella, and 20 specimens were positive for Salmonella Enteritidis PT 21. The cohort study revealed mixed salad (which included potatoes) as the likely cause of the outbreak (RR: 10.4, 95%CI 2.8 - 39.1; P = < 0.001). The causative agent of the outbreak was cultured from the stock of eggs used at the fair and from all three drag swabs and one barn dust sample collected from the responsible egg laying flock. Molecular subtyping by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of genomic DNA after XbaI digestion showed that isolates from eggs, from the flock and from humans were indistinguishable. We hypothesise that cross contamination from eggs to boiled potatoes occurred in the kitchen area, where raw eggs were handled by village residents preparing a traditional Viennese egg dressing. Unrefrigerated storage of peeled potatoes may have favoured bacterial growth. Eggs from small rural flocks of laying hens kept in a traditional 'natural' way should not be assumed to be salmonella-free.