ECDC rapid risk assessment: multi-country outbreak of Salmonella infections thought to be linked to imported melons

27 July 2021

Article: 55/3004

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported that, between 15 March and 6 July 2021, 348 confirmed cases of Salmonella braenderup (S. braenderup) sequence type 22 (ST22) were recorded in 12 EU or EEA countries, and the UK. Of these cases, 68 were hospitalised, with no deaths recorded. 

Based on epidemiological, microbiological and traceability investigations, the vehicles of infection are presumed to be melons imported from outside the EU, EEA and UK. A batch of galia melons from a Honduran producer are reported to be a probable source of infection, however the first cases were detected in March 2021, before this batch had been harvested. This indicates that contaminated food vehicles had been circulating in these countries earlier, seemingly confirmed by the April 2021 detection, in Austria, of the outbreak strain in melons.

Further investigations are required to identify the point of contamination along the production chain. The Honduran producer finished harvesting melons in April 2021, and their produce is no longer on the market, with no additional exports from Honduras foreseen until the new season starts in December 2021. Given delays in reporting and the possibility of secondary cases, further infections may still be reported, but with decreasing frequency.

Source: ECDC, 20 July 2021