Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Caribbean Holiday Leaves Bad Taste

According to an Associated Press report published this morning on, an Air Transat flight from the Dominican Republic destined for Edmonton was forced to make an emergency landing in Fort Lauderdale, FL at 11:00 pm yesterday (Tuesday), after eight passengers complained of sickness.

The flight was quarantined as a precaution while passengers were interviewed by the CDC. The eight ill passengers – six adults and two children – were traveling as a group and had all eaten at the same place yesterday afternoon. The ill passengers were taken to hospital and the flight continued to its destination after a delay of several hours.

The news report makes no mention of the symptoms, but the relatively short incubation period suggests the possibility of Staphylococcus aureus food poisoning, which is caused by a toxin that is produced by many strains of this bacteria when it multiplies. Symptoms – typically nausea and vomiting – usually develop within a few hours of eating a contaminated meal, and last for about 24 hours. Symptoms disappear spontaneously, once the toxin has been eliminated from the body, but dehydration can be a problem in severe cases, for young children, or the elderly.

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