TALLINN - During the last month, salmonellosis outbreaks have been reported in two Estonian schools; however, the Estonian Health Board reported that there is no basis for alarm as the disease can be prevented in a simple way, reports news agency LETA. Students of the Johvi Vene Gumnaasium were hospitalized with salmonellosis on April 16 this year; as a result, the school was closed for two days.
On April 19, the Uuemoisa Elementary School in Lane County reported an outbreak of the disease, with 19 children exhibiting various symptoms of salmonellosis receiving medical attention.
As the Estonian Health Board’s Public Relations Manager Iiris Saluri noted, group outbreaks of salmonellosis do occur from time to time. Several instances were reported at the beginning of last year as well, with the largest one in a pre-school establishment in Tallinn involving 28 individual cases.
“These outbreaks do occur, but they can be prevented by adhering to two very simple rules: cook the food thoroughly and avoid cross-contamination,” Saluri said.
The cross-contamination received little attention from the general public. To avoid it, one should make sure that raw food does not come into contact with cooked food, and that separate cutting boards are used for different meat products; in addition, the dishes and appliances should be washed thoroughly.
According to Saluri, schools and food establishments are generally much more careful in following these rules. The Veterinary and Food Board inspectors, who visited the Uuemoisa Elementary School, confirmed as well that all the necessary health regulations were being complied with.
The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation.
“It was difficult to identify salmonella, in retrospect, because the symptoms manifest themselves only after 12-36 hours of exposure. Usually, by that time, the food has already been eaten or discarded,” Saluri noted.
Saluri said that the Uuemoisa school menu featured a number of potential sources of infection. “Chicken, minced meat, dishes containing eggs, whipped cream for dessert - all of these can cause salmonella infection,” Saluri pointed out.
Salmonellosis is a contagious disease that is caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella. The symptoms include fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting and usually manifest themselves within 12-36 hours of exposure, or in rarer cases, within 6-72 hours of exposure.