New research indicates that an outbreak of Shigella in England in 2018 was likely caused by contaminated coriander. The national food poisoning outbreak highlights the potential for a multi-drug resistant strain of Shigella sonnei to be transmitted via produce, distributed across a wide geographic area. This is the thesis of an accepted manuscript in the journal Epidemiology and Infection.
It was linked to food at multiple restaurants in different areas that were not part of a franchise. Whole genome sequencing helped the identification of potential links between the restaurants. Poor hygiene practices during cultivation, distribution or preparation of fresh produce were likely contributing factors to the contamination.
In March 2018, Public Health England was told of Shigella sonnei infections in people who had eaten at three different catering outlets in England. Although the outbreaks were initially investigated as separate events, whole genome sequencing showed they were caused by the same strain.
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