Rare salmonella poisoning hits at least 23 in Denmark

Experts in Denmark are trying to locate the source of a salmonella outbreak that has resulted in 23 people being taken ill.

Rare salmonella poisoning hits at least 23 in Denmark
File photo: Simon Knudsen / Nf-Nf / Ritzau Scanpix

The bacteria in question is a rare form known as Salmonella Coeln, but the source is so far unknown.

People across the country have been affected by the outbreak, with a total of 13 women and 10 men so far confirmed ill, with half of those hospitalized after being infected, Ritzau reported on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is a (bacteria) type we don’t often see, maybe two to five cases yearly. So when 23 cases show up in one month, that’s an unusual situation,” said senior researcher Steen Ethelberg of the SSI disease research institute in Copenhagen.

The actual number of people to have been infected is likely to be higher than 23, Ethelberg added.

“We only register the sickest: people who go to the doctor and test positive for salmonella. We normally say there are 10 times as many who we don’t know about,” the researcher said.

SSI is now working together with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and the Technical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute to find the source of the bacterial outbreak.

“We are interviewing the sick and asking where they have been and what they have eaten. We’re usually able to find a pattern. But with this outbreak, it’s not yet been possible to find a common factor, so we’re continuing the investigation,” Ethelberg said.

The affected individuals had not been abroad immediately prior to being taken ill, are located in different parts of the country, do not know each other and have not taken part in any common event.

That makes it likely that a widely-distributed food product is the cause of the outbreak.

Salmonella Coeln was described by Ethelberg as neither better nor worse than other types.

“You don’t get more sick from Salmonella Coeln than with other types of Salmonella,” he said.

Symptoms of infection by the bacteria include diarrhoea, stomach pains, fever, headache and possibly nausea and sickness. Illness can last from a few days to several weeks.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about taking sick leave in Denmark

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New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.