Two consecutive large outbreaks of Salmonella Muenchen linked to pig farming in Germany, 2013 to 2014: Is something missing in our regulatory framework?
In 2013, raw pork was the suspected vehicle of a large outbreak (n = 203 cases) of Salmonella Muenchen in the German federal state of Saxony. In 2014, we investigated an outbreak (n = 247 cases) caused by the same serovar affecting Saxony and three further federal states in the eastern part of Germany. Evidence from epidemiological, microbiological and trace-back investigations strongly implicated different raw pork products as outbreak vehicles. Trace-back analysis of S. Muenchen-contaminated raw pork sausages narrowed the possible source down to 54 pig farms, and S. Muenchen was detected in three of them, which traded animals with each other. One of these farms had already been the suspected source of the 2013 outbreak. S. Muenchen isolates from stool of patients in 2013 and 2014 as well as from food and environmental surface swabs of the three pig farms shared indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns. Our results indicate a common source of both outbreaks in the primary production of pigs. Current European regulations do not make provisions for Salmonella control measures on pig farms that have been involved in human disease outbreaks. In order to prevent future outbreaks, legislators should consider tightening regulations for Salmonella control in causative primary production settings.