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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Salmonella enterica serotype Virchow associated with human infections in Switzerland: 2004-2009

Mario Bonalli, Roger Stephan, Ursula Käppeli, Nicole Cernela, Luzius Adank and Herbert Hächler*

Author Affiliations

Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 272, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-49

Published: 23 February 2011



Salmonellosis is one of the most important foodborne diseases and a major threat to public health. Salmonella serotype Virchow ranks among the top five serovars in Europe.


A total of 153 strains isolated from different patients from 2004 through 2009 in Switzerland were further characterized by (i) assessing phenotypic antibiotic resistance profiles using the disk diffusion method and (ii) by genotyping using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) after macrorestriction with XbaI in order to evaluate strain relationship.


The relative frequency of S. Virchow among other Salmonella serovars varied between 4th to 8th rank. The annual incidence ranged from 0.45/100'000 in 2004 to 0.40/100'000 in 2009. A total of 48 strains (32%) were resistant to one to 3 antimicrobials, 54 strains (36%) displayed resistance patterns to more than three antibiotics. No trend was identifiable over the years 2004 to 2009. We found a high prevalence (62%) of nalidixic acid resistant strains, suggesting an equally high rate of decreased fluoroqionolone susceptibility, whereas intermediate resistance to ciprofloxacin was negligible. Two strains were extended spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producers. Analysis of PFGE patterns uncovered a predominant cluster (similarity coefficient above 80%) consisting of 104 of the 153 strains.


The worldwide increase of antibiotic resistances in Salmonella is an emerging public health problem. For Switzerland, no clear trend is identifiable over the years 2004 to 2009 for S. Virchow. Antimicrobial susceptibility and resistance profiles varied considerably within this period. Nevertheless, the situation in Switzerland coincided with findings in other European countries. Genotyping results of this strain collection revealed no evidence for an undetected outbreak within this time period.