I was out of town for a few days, and I decided to catch up on news by scanning one of my favorite sites for outbreak information - FoodHACCP.com. As a result, I have extended our food poisoning world tour by adding several stops.
Visitors to northern parts of Vietnam should be aware that the country's outbreak of acute diarrhea has spread to two more provinces, and has afflicted more than 500 people so far. The Xinhua News Agency reports that more than 100 of the diarrhea victims have been confirmed to be suffering from cholera.
According to health officials, the cholera is being transmitted by contaminated high-risk foods such as blood pudding, raw vegetables and raw shrimp paste. In addition, the Vietnamese health authorities claim that poor personal hygiene is a factor in the spread of the disease, as only 12% of Vietnamese wash their hands with soap.
The outbreak of Shigella that I reported on last week appears to be winding down. Only one additional case has been confirmed.
Four male passengers of a cruise ship that visited Hong Kong have come down with Hepatitis E infections. The round-the-world cruise began on January 7th and ended March 28th. The ship, which has a capacity of 1,800 passengers, stopped in Hong Kong on February 26th and 27th.
Hepatitis E is endemic to Central and Southeast Asia, North and West Africa, and Mexico. It is spread through contaminated food or water, and its symptoms and incubation period are similar to hepatitis A.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Three family members are suffering from an E. coli O157:H7 infection. One of the victims, a child less than 4 years old, attends a nursery school. The other two victims are adults. Children attending the same nursery school will be screened for E. coli O157:H7 as a precaution. This outbreak comes just a few weeks after an apparently-unrelated outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that struck six other children attending various nursery schools in and around Belfast.
The number of people infected by the Salmonella Mbandaka on New Zealand's South Island has increased to 23 since my last posting. Most recently, one more illness has been reported in Marlborough, and one each in Canterbury and Invercargill. The source of the outbreak is still unknown. This outbreak has claimed one victim so far – a 74 year-old woman from Nelson.
Washington State, USA
More than 65 out of 350 people were stricken with norovirus while attending a medical conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Several of the victims required hospital treatment for dehydration before flying home.
Stay tuned for further updates to our world tour itinerary. This trip won't end until there are no more food poisoning outbreaks to report.