Multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to chocolate products: WHO

Kinder chocolate on the spot. Internet photo

Geneva, Switzerland | Xinhua | The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that there have been more than 151 suspected cases of salmonellosis to be linked to the popular “Kinder” chocolate products produced in Belgium.

In a statement, the WHO said that as of Monday, a total of 151 genetically related cases of Salmonella Typhimurium suspected to be linked to the consumption of the implicated chocolate products have been reported from 11 countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the United States.

Children under 10 years of age were disproportionately affected and females represented 66 percent of reported cases. Information on reported symptoms and severity were available for 21 cases, of which 12 reported bloody diarrhea and nine were hospitalized. No fatalities associated with the outbreak have been reported as of Monday.

Genetic sequencing of the salmonella bacteria which sparked the food scare showed that the pathogen originated in buttermilk tanks at a factory run by chocolate makers Ferrero, in the Belgian city of Arlon. The WHO said that the outbreak strain of salmonella is resistant to six types of antibiotics.

At least 113 countries across Europe and globally have received Kinder products, on which a global alert was released by the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), a joint program of the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on April 10, initiating a global product recall. The WHO has assessed the risk of spread in the WHO European region and globally as moderate, until the information is available on the full recall of the products.

According to the WHO, symptoms of salmonellosis are relatively mild and patients will make a recovery without specific treatment, in most cases. However, the risks are higher for some children and elderly patients where dehydration can become severe and life-threatening.

Salmonellosis is characterized by acute fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be bloody as in most of the current cases of infection. Although there are approximately 2,500 strains of Salmonella bacteria, the majority of human infections are caused by two serotypes: Typhimurium and Enteritidis.



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