Salmonella is associated with a large number of cases of foodborne infection resulting in diarrhea and in some cases severe complications. Half of all Salmonella infections in the European Union are linked to pigs, and a new strain called ST34 is dominant in this livestock animal. ST34 has now spread in pig populations worldwide and is pandemic.
The research was led by Eleonora Tassinari and Professor Rob Kingsley from the Quadram Institute and University of East Anglia and his research group, working with Public Health England, Animal and Plants Health Agency, the Earlham Institute and Teagasc Food Research Center. Their study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UKRI.
They found that the common ancestor of the epidemic in UK pigs existed around 30 years ago but went unnoticed until 2005 when surveillance by the UK governments Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) first picked up ST34 in low numbers. Analysis of the genome sequence from human infections using data from Public Health England (PHE) indicated that a bacterial virus called mTmV infected ST34 on multiple occasions starting around 2002.