Protracted, Intermittent Outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka Linked to a Restaurant

Michigan, 2008-2019

William D. Nettleton, MD; Bethany Reimink, MPH; Katherine D. Arends, MPH; Douglas Potter, MBA; Justin J. Henderson, MPH; Stephen Dietrich, MS; Mary Franks, MPH


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70(33):1109-1113. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


In 2018, Michigan public health officials determined that a single restaurant in southwest Michigan was the source for a protracted, intermittent outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Mbandaka infections occurring since 2008. Isolates from 36 infected persons shared two highly related pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns and highly related whole genome sequencing (WGS) subtypes. The initial focus of the local public health investigation on food items rather than food sources (i.e., restaurants) through a questionnaire, difficulty in food history recollection among ill persons, and sporadic case identification over periods from months to years contributed to delayed source identification. The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department (KHCSD) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) collected clinical specimens, performed multiple rounds of environmental testing, and conducted multiple regulatory visits, and based on accumulated findings over 10 years, identified the restaurant source. A 2018 investigation by KCHCSD and MDHHS found that environmental samples and stool specimens from asymptomatic restaurant employees tested positive for the Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak strain. A complex association between the restaurant environment and employees resulted in patron illnesses. Environmental health interventions, facility renovation, asymptomatic employee exclusions, employee health monitoring, and recurrent facility environmental sampling measures were implemented. As a result of ongoing cases and environmental persistence of Salmonella Mbandaka, the restaurant closed permanently in 2018. Restaurant employee stool testing and environmental sampling for Salmonella early during the investigation of confirmed Salmonella cases linked to a restaurant enhances source identification. Exclusion or restriction of asymptomatic food workers with stool-positive nontyphoidal Salmonella should be considered part of restaurant outbreak mitigation.