Outbreak of group A streptococcal throat infection: don't forget to ask about food

Epidemiol Infect. 2008 Sep;136(9):1165-71. doi: 10.1017/S0950268807009764. Epub 2007 Nov 16.


We report a large foodborne outbreak due to group A streptococci (GAS), which caused acute tonsillo-pharyngitis in 200-250 patrons of a company canteen in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June 2006. A retrospective cohort study of canteen users showed that consumption of cold pasta was associated with an increased risk of illness (attack rate 68%, risk ratio 4.1, P<0.0001). Indistinguishable GAS strains (emm89, T-type 3/13/B3264) were cultured from three cases and a cook, who had prepared the pasta. To our knowledge, pasta has previously only twice been incriminated as the source of a GAS outbreak. Only six foodborne GAS outbreaks have been reported in Europe since 1970, four of them in Sweden or Denmark. This geographical clustering suggests that foodborne GAS outbreaks are probably under-recognized elsewhere.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Pharyngitis / epidemiology*
  • Pharyngitis / microbiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes*