The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday confirmed the first cluster of indigenous typhoid fever cases this year and urged the public to pay attention to food sanitation when ordering take-out meals.
The four patients, all about 30 years old and residents of Hsinchu City, had eaten Indonesian noodles ordered in Hsinchu County on April 7 and they fell sick later last month, a CDC official said.
Three of the patients are employees of a high-tech company in the Hsinchu Science Park and the fourth is a friend of theirs.
The patients, two male and two female, are now in hospital receiving a four-week course of antibiotics, Chien Da-jen (錢大仁) said.
“This is a very rare cluster infection of typhoid and the largest in years,” he said, adding that most cluster infections are usually confined to two or three people within the same family.
The source of the infection was found to be a restaurant cook, a female Indonesian immigrant of about 60 years of age, the CDC’s investigative report showed.
“As the cook was an asymptomatic carrier of the disease, she was quarantined at home,” Chien said.
Antibiotics are being administered to her by local health officials who ensure that the medication is taken as directed, he said.
The cook has been living in Taiwan for more than 10 years and she is suspected to be the source of six sporadic cases of typhoid that occurred in the greater Hsinchu area between 2007 and last year, the CDC said.
“We are not sure whether she contracted typhoid in Indonesia or in Taiwan, because she has been an asymptomatic carrier probably for a long time,” Chien said.
The CDC said that the cook traveled frequently to Indonesia.
Although its cooking water was not contaminated, the restaurant has closed until the cook completes her treatment and tests negative for typhoid. There have been nine indigenous cases and one imported instance of typhoid fever this year in the country.