Finland joins countries with travel-related Shigella cases

Finland is the latest country to report Shigella infections in people returning from Cape Verde.

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) registered eight patients with shigellosis in November and December 2022, with a history of travel to Cape Verde.

Based on typing, the strains in five of these cases match those found in other European countries. Almost all Shigella infections found in Finland originate from abroad.

During 2022, more travel-related shigellosis cases than usual were recorded in several European countries. Patients are linked by trips to Cape Verde.

Related cases have been reported by the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark and Portugal.

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In Sweden, 30 infections have been identified since mid-November. Analysis of bacterial isolates found some to be Shigella sonnei and others to be Shigella boydii. Infections with various pathogens, such as E. coli, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and Giardia, have also been noted.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is investigating with national authorities the source of transmission of travel-related cases of shigellosis in Cape Verde.

Sickness claims
Holiday Claims Bureau and Hudgell Solicitors in the UK are representing people with confirmed shigella infection associated with hotels in Cape Verde. The Holiday Claims Bureau also has clients who contracted salmonella and E. coli following a stay in those hotels.

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More than 500 people have asked attorneys at Irwin Mitchell to investigate illnesses associated with trips to Cape Verde. The vacationers stayed in seven hotels in Israel. People have tested positive for bacterial pathogens including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella and E. coli. All were on holidays booked through the tour operator TUI.

Shigella bacteria cause an infection called shigellosis. Most infected people have diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin a few days after infection and last for a week. Travelers may be exposed to bacteria through food, water or contaminated surfaces. Those with a Shigella infection can spread it to others for several weeks. People should wash their hands with soap and water before preparing and eating food to help control the pathogen.

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Finally, THL and Ruokavirasto (the Finnish Food Authority) are helping to organize a food and water outbreak investigation training course in May and June.

An online meeting is scheduled for May 25-26 and an in-person training session is scheduled for Tasula for June 6-8. It will consist of lectures and practical exercises and is intended as additional education for some outbreak control groups, food inspectors, doctors, and veterinarians.

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