Spanish eggs linked to bug outbreak

Imported Spanish eggs containing life-threatening salmonella bacteria have been linked to an outbreak of the infection in England and Wales.

Some 136 cases have been reported this year, the majority in north-west England and the West Midlands.



A strain of the bug was found in a batch of eggs linked to a single supplier in Spain, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.



Dr Joe Kearney, an HPA regional director and chairman of the outbreak control team, said: "A strain of salmonella enteritidis PT 14b that is indistinguishable from the samples taken from affected cases has been isolated from a small number of eggs that carried the same batch number.



"This batch of eggs has been linked to a single supplier in Spain. The Food Standards Agency formally alerted the Spanish authorities to the situation and as a result measures have been taken to eliminate the risk of contamination from this source, including the heat treatment of eggs to kill any salmonella that may be present.



"These eggs were mainly supplied to catering establishments. No further eggs from the implicated batch have been distributed by the UK company."



Eggs from the infected batch were found in three outlets that sell to both wholesale and retail outlets and were withdrawn from sale.



Dr Kearney said: "We expect these developments to have a significant impact in curtailing the outbreak, but in the meantime our investigations are continuing."

PA

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