Public health agencies in Romania and institutes in other EU countries have published a joint report detailing the early findings of an investigation into an outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) caused by shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in the south of the country.
As of 29 February, 15 cases of HUS had been reported among children from five to 38 months old, with three deaths being recorded. Most of those affected were from the Arges district. Six of the cases tested positive for E. coli O26 by serology.
The outbreak investigation initially found that fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products were among the possible common food exposures. Then on 4 March cheese samples taken from a dairy processing facility in Arges during an environmental investigation tested positive for shiga toxin-producing genes and E. coli O26 was isolated from a soft cheese sample from the same establishment.
On 5 March the facility stopped production, recalled suspect products from the market and closed pending the results of further investigations. The Romanian Food Safety Authority is now tracing the distribution of dairy products from the site and has discovered that some may well have been exported to other European countries.
The report is published in the online journal Eurosurveillance and can be found in full here.