Six questions about

Six questions about the salmonella outbreak linked to the contaminated milk

● What is salmonella? This bacterium is naturally present in the digestive tract of livestock such as cattle and chickens, or even in reptiles such as snakes or turtles

Salmonella is spread by their droppings. They can, in this case, enter in contact with the milk during milking. “The milk powder contains mainly cow’s milk, which could explain the presence of salmonella. But manufacturers also add many additives that they, too, were able to be brought into contact with the bacteria.

But salmonella does not happen like that,” explains the Pr François-Xavier Weill, director of the research unit, and expertise of enteric Bacterial pathogens at the Institut Pasteur and director of the National Reference Centre (CNR) on the salmonella. ● Where is the epidemic?”We compared the bacteria isolated from the infants of the current episode of bacteria isolated in another episode related to milk powder in 2005, indicates the Pr Weill. It was also caused by Salmonella agona and also involved one of the brands of milk from the current episode. We concluded that it was the same strains are responsible and that both outbreaks have a common source. The ongoing investigation should allow us to determine the origin. It may have taken place at the level of a farm, the environment of the plant or be related to the presence of a healthy carrier that has contaminated the chain of production,” concludes the director of the National Reference Centre (CNR) on the salmonella.

● What are the early symptoms? The first symptoms appear 12 to 48 hours after the ingestion of food carrying the pathogen. This was followed by stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever between 39 and 40 degrees.

If the bacterium multiplies rapidly in the cells, it may also be responsible for bloody stools. Further tests are then needed to confirm the diagnosis.

“In babies, these symptoms can lead to rapid dehydration and severe or even septicemia if the bacteria spreads in the blood,” explains professor Weill. ” READ ALSO – salmonella are responsible for 20,000 food-borne illness per year ● Is this serious? Salmonella is a bacteria responsible for digestive infections ranging from simple gastroenteritis to more severe forms, can lead to death.

It depends on the amount ingested and the immune system. “In our laboratories, we confirm by an average of 10,000 cases of salmonellosis per year, indicates the Pr François-Xavier Weill. But everyone does not test, and not all of us are not sent. It is estimated that the bacterium causes up to 200,000 infections per year”Between 2008 and 2013, 67 deaths occurred because of the bacteria, according to a recent study conducted by public Health, France. “The fatal cases are rare, but this infection has a high cost for society in terms of public health and on the economic plan,” continues the specialist.

● What individuals are most at risk?The babies, the pregnant women and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the bacterium, because the immune system is more fragile than the rest of the population. “As adults we have a varied diet, but in the case of babies, it is exclusively composed of milk,” explains professor Weill. If it is contaminated with salmonella, they will receive larger quantities and with an immune system still in development, unable to fight effectively on the attack. They can therefore be more quickly and severely affected,” he continued.

In the majority of cases, adult patients recover spontaneously within a week. Among patients most severely affected or the most vulnerable, an antibiotic treatment may be prescribed by the doctor. ● How to avoid it? The best way to prevent salmonellosis is to wash hands regularly, particularly before eating, but also after touching animals or meat. It is also advisable to wash the cooking utensils after contact with meat, to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, eating cooked foods considerably reduces the chances of contamination. .

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