Background: Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis is a universally recognized cause of foodborne disease. In South Africa, outbreaks of foodborne disease are generally under reported. We investigated the etiology of acute gastroenteritis in 216 patients who presented to a rural hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, after consuming a meal at a school function.
Materials and methods: Stool specimens from 37 patients, as well as two food samples, were available for microbiological investigation. Similarity between isolates was investigated using phenotypic and genotypic techniques. Phenotypic investigations included morphological, biochemical, and antibiogram profiling. Genotypic relatedness was determined with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis. The available epidemiological data were also described.
Results: Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated from 18 patients and 1 food sample. Isolates were phenotypically and genotypically indistinguishable. Epidemiological data suggest a point-source outbreak with a possibility of continued transmission.
Conclusions: The results suggest a foodborne Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak due to contaminated food served at the school function. Epidemiological investigations continue to be extremely difficult in rural areas.