Laboratory studies on salmonella-contaminated cheese involved in a major outbreak of gastroenteritis
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A major outbreak of gastroenteritis was traced to Cheddar cheese contaminated with Salmonella typhimurium. There were no significant differences in pH values of the contaminated (mean pH 5.31) and non-contaminated (mean pH 5.39) cheese. The isolation rates of Salm. typhimurium were about the same when cheese samples were homogenized in lactose broth, lactose broth containing 1% Tween 80, or in aqueous 2% sodium citrate. Salmonella typhimurium was isolated regardless of preenrichment in lactose broth, but required selective enrichment in selenite cystine or tetrathionate brilliant green broth. There were no marked differences in the isolation rates obtained with different selective enrichment media, or after incubation at 36 degrees and 43 degrees C for 24 or 48 h. Contaminated samples of cheese failed to yield Salm. typhimurium consistently despite large and multiple samplings; samples from the interior of cheese blocks yielded positive results more frequently than the samples from the exterior. The number of Salm. typhimurium in factory sealed blocks as well as in samples obtained from the homes of known cases of salmonellosis was found to range from less than 3/100 g to 9/100 g of cheese. The infective dose of Salm. typhimurium in contaminated cheese was probably no greater than 10(4) organisms, and a rapid decline in numbers of Salm. typhimurium must have occurred subsequent to the outbreak.
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