Infected chicken meat is suspected to be the source of salmonella outbreaks in 11 European countries, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday.
At least 134 cases, including one fatality, had been identified, most of them reported between January and August, the ECDC said in a press release, adding that the majority of the tested isolates displayed genetic changes causing resistance to ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic for severe salmonella infections.
The infections have been linked to two sub-clusters of endemic Salmonella Enteritidis ST11, consisting of 97 and 37 reported cases respectively.
Most of the cases, including 29 belonging to both sub-clusters, were reported from France, followed by Denmark with 22 cases belonging to one of the sub-clusters, the ECDC said.
Cases were also reported from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden.
According to 19 of the 22 infected people in Denmark who were interviewed, most of them had consumed kebab or pizza that may have had chicken as an ingredient before the onset of symptoms.
In Austria where 14 cases were reported and divided into the two clusters, nine of the 13 interviewed said they had consumed chicken in various forms such as kebabs, burritos or schnitzels before developing symptoms.
The ECDC stressed the importance of thorough cooking of meat and poultry and preventing cross-contamination in food handling.