40 sick: Salmonella in sesame seeds never seen before

The European Centre for Disease Prevention reports that since March 2016, four EU Member States have reported a total of 40 cases of a new Salmonella serotype with an antigenic formula 11:z41:enz15, which has never been described before. The cases have been reported from Greece (N=22), Germany (N=10), Czech Republic (N=5) and Luxembourg (N=3). Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) have confirmed the genetic closeness of the Salmonella isolates, suggesting a common source of infection. The latest case reports are from February 2017. An epidemiological analytical study performed in Greece in 2016 found an association between infection and a sesame-based product. This hypothesis was confirmed by the identification of the same Salmonella serotype in sesame seeds in October 2016 in Germany. As sesame seeds have a long shelf life and new cases have been reported recently, it is likely that contaminated batches have been circulating in the food chain for several months in a number of Member States. Although few new cases have been reported in the last three months, the outbreak still appears to be ongoing.