Detection of spatial and spatio-temporal Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella typhimurium human case clusters focused around licensed abattoirs in Ontario in 2015, and their potential relation to known outbreaks.
Salmonellosis is one of several zoonotic diseases for which individuals with occupational animal contact, including abattoir workers, are at an increased risk. If meat is contaminated during slaughter, this can increase the risk of enteric illness for consumers. In this study, we investigated whether reported cases of Salmonella Heidelberg and Typhimurium were clustered around abattoirs in Ontario in 2015 and whether there was any evidence (laboratory/exposure) to suggest an abattoir at the centre of a cluster might be the source of exposure. Data for each reported case of S. Heidelberg and S. Typhimurium in Ontario in 2015 were collected. Multi-focused and non-focused spatial and space-time cluster detection tests were performed for each serotype, with and without cases linked to known outbreaks, using Poisson and space-time permutation models. Focused tests included the location of abattoirs operational in all or part of 2015. Laboratory data and exposure information were used to explore the relatedness of cases within identified clusters. Focused spatial tests identified clusters of S. Heidelberg and S. Typhimurium around abattoirs. Focused space-time permutation tests identified 2 significant space-time clusters of S. Heidelberg; one cluster (n = 11 cases) included 8 of 9 cases associated with a known outbreak and the other cluster (n = 18 cases) was not part of a previously identified outbreak. Review of laboratory and risk factor information suggested that cases within each cluster shared a common exposure. Cases were not asked about goat or sheep meat consumption. The focused cluster test, particularly with the space-time permutation model, could assist in identifying outbreaks associated with a particular physical location, such as an abattoir. Improvements to the current case investigation process, such as consistent collection and reporting of high-risk occupation information and more detailed food consumption history, could assist in outbreak identification when coupled with this statistic.