Sixty-five People Catch Food Poisoning in Helsinki

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Published 21.11.2008, 18.51 (updated 21.11.2008, 18.55)

The Helsinki public works department cafeteria is the site of Finland's first cryptosporidium epidemic. Sixty-five people have been infected with the micro-organism that causes gastro-intestinal illness.

Four people have been admitted to hospital because of dehydration, told Helsinki city environmental health chief Antti Pönkä to YLE.

The public works cafeteria closed on Friday after health officials learned of the outbreak on Thursday.

Pönkä suggests that the micro-organism may have travelled to Finland through imported foodstuffs. For this reason other outbreaks could surface around the country.

A Common Cause of Disease

Cryptosporidium epidemics are relatively common around the world. Contaminated food or drinking water often help spread the organism. Pönkä is surprised that cryptosporidium hasn't surfaced in Finland before.

"There have been several outbreaks in Finland's neighbouring countries," says Pönkä.

Carriers usually begin experiencing symptoms within a week of infection. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and fever. Symptoms can last from two weeks to a month. In healthy adults the gastro-intestinal illness caused by the organism usually passes on its own.

The strain of this cryptosporidium outbreak is yet to be determined.


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