Objectives: The aim of this work is to evaluate ground meat as infection source of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) to population of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Background: Argentina is the country with the highest rate of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The main agent of HUS is STEC, which produce a food borne disease at a low infective dose (<100 CFU/g). Cattle is a natural reservoir of STEC, and ground meat is a high-risk food since surface contamination is distributed throughout the meat. Tierra del Fuego (TDF) is part of the patagonian region of Argentina, which presents the highest rate of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Methods: In our study, all of the butcher shops in the island were sampled. Ninety-three samples of ground meat were taken from butcher shops enabled in three TDF communities. Samples were processed in accordance of the algorithm for STEC O157 and non-O157 STEC.
Results: A total of 2.15% of the samples of ground meat from the retail outlets of TDF were suspected of O157: H7 non-STEC. STEC were absent in the sampling round.
Conclusion: According to no one cases of HUS from TDF was reported at the National Vigilance System during our sampling period, we could not discard ground meat as the main source of STEC infection which cause HUS. Ground meat as infection source of STEC could not be discarded in TDF according to no report of HUS case was reported at National Vigilance System during to our sampling dates. Meat contamination could have a timely presentation coinciding with the cases of HUS. Also, other sources of infection could be involved locally. Prevention is a fundamental tool to use with HUS, it is necessary to implement various measures, including good manufacturing and hygiene practices, consumption and use of safe water at industry and home steps.