Sunday, May 4, 2008

Food Poisoning Around The World - May 3rd Edition

It's time for another tour of international food-borne and water-borne disease issues and outbreaks.

Hong Kong
A snack food at a school fair held on April 26th transmitted Salmonella to 124 attendees – aged one to 56. Twenty-two of the victims needed hospitalization. As of May 2nd, 10 of the 22 were still in hospital and in stable condition.

Kalikot District, Nepal
Seventeen villages in this western Nepal district have been struggling with an outbreak of diarrhea, which claimed 6 lives last week. The fight to contain this outbreak has been hindered by a shortage of doctors and a lack of medicine.

Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
The lack of clean water, which resulted in the deaths of 80 babies due to gastroenteritis, is not likely to be rectified anytime soon. The government has organized a "special needs cluster" comprised of government officials who will tour the region and determine its needs. The cost of repairing and upgrading the water supply infrastructure is estimated to be approximately R400-million (US$52.8 million).

World Cruise on P&O
Passengers on a 12-week world cruise on the liner Aurora were exposed to hepatitis E during their voyage from Madeira to Mexico. Twelve passengers became ill with symptoms of hepatitis, including jaundice, while the ship was halfway across the Pacific Ocean. The liner continued to Auckland, New Zealand, where two of the passengers – a couple in their 70's – were airlifted to hospital. More than 1,100 passengers have been asked to undergo blood tests.

Hepatitis E, like hepatitis A, is spread through contaminated food and water. Typical symptoms, in addition to jaundice, include loss of appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Officials are working to contain an outbreak of cholera – that quintessential disease of disaster – after heavy rains in December, January and February, and Cyclone Jokwe in early March, caused severe flooding. At least 72 people are believed to have died from cholera and an equal number from dysentery and other diarrheal diseases. Cholera has been confirmed in 9 of the country's 11 provinces.

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