Epidemiology and Infection

National outbreak of Salmonella senftenberg associated with infant food

A. A. RUSHDY a1c1, J. M. STUART a1, L. R. WARD a2, J. BRUCE a3, E. J. THRELFALL a2, P. PUNIA a2 and J. R. BAILEY a4
a1 Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ
a2 Public Health Laboratory Service, Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens, Central Public Health Laboratory
a3 Public Health Laboratory Service, Statistics Unit
a4 Department of Public Health Medicine, East Norfolk Health Authority


Eight cases of Salmonella senftenberg infection in infants were identified in the first half of 1995 in England, five were indistinguishable S. senftenberg strains. A case-control study showed an association between illness and consumption of one brand of baby cereal (P=0·03). The cereal manufacturer reported isolating S. senftenberg in June 1994 from an undistributed cereal batch. Outbreak strains and the cereal strain were all plasmid-free in contrast to other human isolates of S. senftenberg in the same period. Changes in the production process were implemented to prevent further contamination.

Surveillance centres should strengthen the detection and investigation of outbreaks of gastrointestinal infection in susceptible groups, especially young children. In this outbreak, the study of only five cases led to identification of the vehicle of infection. Even when few cases are reported, epidemiological investigation in conjunction with molecular typing may lead to public health action which prevents continuing or future outbreaks.

(Accepted November 11 1997)

c1 Author for correspondence.