Food borne outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus following a wedding ceremony in Sardarshahar, District Churu, Rajasthan, September 2021

  • Water or foodborne
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There are no estimates of foodborne disease burden in India, but acute diarrheal diseases and food-poisoning accounts for about 40% of all outbreaks reported by India’s disease surveillance programme. On September1,2021 community health centre (CHC), Sardarshahar reported clustering of acute gastroenteritis cases. We investigated to describe epidemiology of outbreak and provide recommendations to prevent future outbreaks.
A case was defined as resident of Sardarshahar who attended wedding ceremony on September 1, 2021 and developed vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain or nausea between September 1-9, 2021. We did house-tohouse survey and interviewed cases to collect information on symptoms and possible exposure. Stool samples and food samples were sent for laboratory investigation. We collected information on time lag between food preparation and serving and temperature on which prepared food was stored.
We identified 163 cases(overall attack rate:32.6% (163/500)), median age was 22 years (range:1.5-77), 55% were female. All had vomiting and diarrhea, 21% had abdominal cramps. Food was served from 12:00-5:00pm on September 1, and cases started reporting 10 pm onwards. No case occurred after September3, 8:30 pm. Of the 25interviewed cases, 100%consumed Gulab Jamun and 96%consumed Dahi-Vada. All five stool samples yielded staphylococcus aureus. Gram positive cocci growth was found on Dahi-Vada and Gulab Jamun. Both the food items were prepared 24 hours prior to serving and were kept on room temperature(77.7-99.4oF) till the time of serving.
We confirmed outbreak of food poisoning caused by Staphylococcus aureus among the residents of Sardarshahar who attended wedding ceremony on September 1, 2021. Storage of Gulab Jamun and Dahi-Vada at room temperature for long time period after preparation and before consumption might had led to growth of grampositive cocci. We recommend not to store the prepared food for more than two hours outside the temperature range (40oF-140oF).

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