Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Outbreaks and Alerts: October 12, 2010

A daily digest of international outbreaks, alerts and food safety news

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United States
  • St. Paul, MN. October 12th: The Minnesota Department of Health reminds residents of the state to beware of false claims, deceptive sales pitches, and scare tactics being used by some water treatment companies to sell expensive and unnecessary water treatment systems. High profile investigations of groundwater contamination in Washington County and elsewhere in the state have resulted in a noticeable increase in the number of complaints regarding such deceptive sales activities.

  • Upper Pyshma, Russia. October 12th: Seven staff members and 114 students attending School No. 22 developed gastroenteritis after consuming a meal at the school canteen. An investigation in conditions at the school revealed a number of significant violations of safe food handling practices by the canteen staff.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands
  • Sichuan Province, China. October 11th: Health authorities said Monday they had found a huge amount of nitrite in food samples taken from a hotel in southwest China's Sichuan Province where food poisoning killed a 47-year old woman and sickened 42 others Friday. Authorities have ordered the hotel closed pending further investigation.
  • Hong Kong. October 11th: The Centre for Health Protection is investigating an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in a residential home for children in Sham Shui Po. The outbreak has affected 25 boys, aged from 8 to 14, and two male staff members. All 27 victims suffered from abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and fever; none of the illnesses were severe enough to require hospitalization.
  • Yangoru-Saussia District, Papua New Guinea. October 11th: Two new cases of cholera were reported in the district last week. Both cases were confirmed by clinical tests. The public is being urged to observe basic rules of personal hygiene, minimize unnecessary movement from villages and refrain from buying cooked food at roadside or village markets.
  • Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. October 11th: Thirty-three participants at an archery competition developed food poisoning after sharing dinner and sashimi. All symptoms were mild.
  • Beijing, China. October 12th: The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) will improve spending on county-level food safety bureaus under-developed regions of China as part of the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015). AQSIQ is establishing a science and technology committee to advise the administration on national policies and standards to protect the public against unsafe food and consumer products.
  • Geneva, Switzerland. October 12th: A spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says a cholera epidemic that has hit Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger could spread to neighbouring countries.The World Health Organization says 1,879 deaths have been reported in the four countries as of Oct. 3. That was from nearly 40,500 cases. Nigeria, with nearly 1,200 deaths, has been hardest hit.

Australia and New Zealand
  • Canterbury, New Zealand. October 11th: E. coli levels in the Avon River are as much as 17 times higher normal in some places, and present a risk to human health. Enviroment Canterbury warns that no one should be using the Avon River, Kaipoi River, or the lower Waimakariri River and the estuary for the next two days. The city’s other river, the Heathcote, is safe to use.

Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic. October 11th: Twenty-eight children developed gastrointestinal complaints, headache, dizziness and nausea after eating spoiled food served to them at breakfast at a school in Sanchez Ramirez province. Twenty-five of the children were treated at hospital and released; three were admitted to hospital and remain under observation.

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