Chilean authorities warn about sea food consumption


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chilean Congress members have asked the Ministry of Public Health to declare a “sanitary emergency in the south of the country” given the massive sea food poisoning contaminated with the vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria.

Deputy Juan Lobos president of the Health Committee said on Tuesday that although measures have been taken, “it’s essential to stop vibrio parahaemolyticus from spreading and putting at risk a greater percentage of the population”.

The lawmaker said that “228 cases so far in a few days, more than justifies declaring a sanitary emergency, and must not be seen as alarmist but rather an opportunity for health authorities to have the right tools to address the issue from its roots”.

Lobos said he supported all actions taken by Health minister Alvaro Erazo including the decision to advance the prevention campaign so that people take the necessary precautions.

“We’re not asking people not to consume sea food, mollusc, but rather to do it in a responsible way”, he underlined. Chilean authorities have warned about the consumption of raw sea food, mainly in the southern regions of Maule and Biobio, where the outbreak is most intense.

However minister Erazo said that in spite of the number of cases, “compared to previous years we have a steady decrease in reported sea food poisoning cases, so I wouldn’t say we have been that remiss”.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is described as a Gram-negative bacterium found in brackish saltwater which when ingested, causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. While infection can occur via the fecal-oral route, ingestion of bacteria in raw or undercooked seafood, usually oysters, is the predominant cause the acute gastroenteritis.

Outbreaks tend to be concentrated along coastal regions during the summer and early fall when higher water temperatures favor higher levels of bacteria. Seafood most often implicated includes squid, mackerel, tuna, sardines, crab, shrimp, and bivalves like oysters and clams.

The incubation period of 24 hours is followed by explosive, watery diarrhea accompanied by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and sometimes fever.

In related news three other brands of cheese from the company Chevrita have been withdrawn from shelves fearing further cases of listeriosis, according to Public Health ministry officials.

Last December first sanitary officials banned the sale and distribution of dairy produce from the brands Chevrita, Las Pircas and Lescure, following the discovery that 59 samples of Brie and Camembert cheese contained Listeria Monocytogenes.

A total of 108 cases of listeriosis have been reported in Santiago de Chile.




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