Reevaluation of a Suspected Cronobacter sakazakii Outbreak in Mexico

J Food Prot. 2015 Jun;78(6):1191-6. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-14-563.


In 2010, two infants became ill at a hospital in Mexico. Subsequently, a range of clinical, environmental, and powdered and rehydrated infant formula isolates were identified by using a combination of phenotyping and PCR probes. The strains were clustered according to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The causative agent was reported as Cronobacter sakazakii, with powdered infant formula (PIF) identified as the likely source of the infections. This new study further characterized the isolates from this outbreak by using multilocus sequence typing and whole genome sequencing of selected strains. Though four PIF isolates and one hospital environmental isolate were identified as C. sakazakii sequence type 297 by multilocus sequence typing, they were isolated 6 months prior to the outbreak. Genotypic analyses of patient isolates identified them as Enterobacter hormaechei and Enterobacter spp. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profile of the Enterobacter spp. isolates matched those of isolates from previously unopened tins of PIF. E. hormaechei was only isolated from the two infants and not PIF. The reevaluation of this outbreak highlights the need for accurate detection and identification assays, particularly during outbreak investigations in which incorrect identifications may mislead the investigation and attribution of the source. Though the species responsible for the symptoms could not be determined, this outbreak demonstrated the possible transmission of Enterobacter spp. from PIF to infants. These are possibly the first reported cases of Enterobacter spp. infection of infants from bacterial-contaminated PIF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cronobacter sakazakii / isolation & purification*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / epidemiology
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / microbiology*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / microbiology*
  • Mexico
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA