As Belgian Chocolates Trigger Salmonella Outbreak, Easter Holiday Consumption Could Mean More Infections

European Health officials across Europe are looking into a salmonella outbreak related to Belgian chocolates that have sickened around 150 children across Europe and the increase in consumption and distribution of the chocolates during Easter which could lead to the spread of further cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that on the 27th of March 2022 it was informed that the United Kingdom notified it of the presence of a cluster of cases that had uniphasic Salmonella Typhimurium Type 34.

It is believed that the outbreak WHO stated, was molecularly and epidemiologically linked to chocolate made by Belgium and distributed worldwide to more than the 113 nations and territories of every one of the WHO Regions.

At present to date, a total of 151 genetically related cases believed to be related to the consumption of chocolate products that are implicated have been identified in 11 different countries.

“While 150 of 151 known cases have been reported in Europe, one case has been reported in the United States of America and there is the likelihood of additional cases being reported from other countries given the broad distribution of the products during the Easter holiday which may lead to increased consumption of the implicated product or transportation of the implicated product to additional locations as a result of holiday-related travel,” WHO stated in the press announcement.

Salmonella bacteria can be found in wild and domestic animals, including by eating poultry products. It is also the cause of salmonellosis which is an illness caused by non-typhoidal salmonella bacteria.

As of now, the chance of spread within the WHO European region as well as globally according to the announcement, is considered to be low until more information is made available about the full recall of products.

According to WHO’s risk assessment for salmonella, illnesses are generally mild and don’t require treatment. However older people and children are more at risk of serious complications resulting from dehydration.

“To date, most cases have been in children under 10 years of age which may be due to the implicated product being targeted at children,” the report said.

Although there were no deaths as a result of the outbreak up to the date of 25 April 2022, in cases with details on the severity and symptoms the high rate of hospitalization was seen.

“Further information is needed to allow for a more accurate assessment of the severity associated with this event, including data on symptoms,” the UN agency stated and added, “given that the identification of existing cases was through advanced molecular techniques, which are not routinely used in all countries, there is a likelihood that some proportion of cases will go undetected.”

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