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The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is investigating an outbreak of a strain of Salmonella Newport infection among 30 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the beginning of December 2011

Cases of illness caused by the same strain have been confirmed in Scotland, Ireland and Germany.

The figures compare to 10, 12, and 11 cases over the same period in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. Around 200 cases of Salmonella Newport are reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland each year.

Infection with Salmonella Newport causes a similar illness to other forms of Salmonella infection and symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. The 30 cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ranged in age from six months to 85 years. One person has died although they had serious underlying health complications. Seventy per cent of cases were women with the East of England having more cases than other regions.

Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at the HPA said: “Although it’s too soon to say with certainty what the likely cause of infection is, early indications suggest that a number of people became unwell after eating watermelon. This has also been noted in the cases in Scotland and Germany although further investigation is ongoing.

“It’s important to remember the risk of becoming unwell after eating watermelon is very low. These cases only represent a very small proportion of total consumption. It is always advisable to wash fruits and vegetables – including watermelon – before consumption to reduce the risk of possible illness.

“Colleagues from the Food Standards Agency are part of the outbreak control team and they are working with us to identify the source of this outbreak.”

Salmonella Newport has been found in many different foods in previous UK outbreaks - the largest one was in 2004 and was associated with the consumption of lettuce at restaurants and takeaways.


Written by Scott Buckler
Thursday, 02 February 2012 16:04

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