Norway’s Institute of Public Health is reporting a national outbreak caused by the gastrointestinal bacterium monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium. So far, infection has been detected in 18 people.
The outbreak investigation shows that all 13 people who have been interviewed so far have eaten watermelon in the last few days before becoming ill.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority considers it highly unlikely that the watermelons associated with the outbreak are still on the market. Whole watermelon has a relatively long shelf life of 3-4 weeks. Most of the people became ill in the period from the end of June to the middle of July 2022.
The bacteria can sit in the skin of the melons and when they split they can enter the pulp and grow there.
“To reduce the risk of infection, you should follow the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s advice on safe handling of melons,” says senior researcher Umaer Naseer at the Institute of Public Health.
The advice is:
- Do not use melons with damage to the skin that goes into the pulp
- Wash the melon well and dry it with paper before cutting it into pieces
- Wash your hands and equipment thoroughly with soap and water after handling melon
- Sliced melon should be kept cool
The people belonging to the outbreak are aged between 1-87, and 10 are men. They live in 6 different counties; Møre and Romsdal (6), Vestland (6), Trøndelag (2), Rogaland (1), Troms and Finnmark (2) and Innlandet (1). 8 of them have been hospitalized. Bacteria with the same genetic profile have been detected in all those infected.
Of the 13 people who have been interviewed so far, all have stated that they have eaten watermelon bought in various grocery stores. Suspect product tracking is done continuously.
The outbreak investigation is a close collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Veterinary Institute and the municipal superintendents in the relevant municipalities.
– It is too early to say whether the outbreak is over. We are following the situation closely, says senior researcher Umaer Naseer at the Institute of Public Health.
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