Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Diarrhea outbreak likely caused by food poisoning

EXPOSED:Pathogenic bacteria are thought to be the cause of illness for 500 people who ate food from a lunch catering service at four Taipei schools

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Four mass food poisoning cases reported at Taipei schools and universities last week were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as likely to be Bacillus cereus contamination.

Nearly 500 students from Affiliated Experimental Elementary School of National Chengchi University, Taipei Municipal Minghu Junior High School, Tianmu Elementary School and Long Men Junior High School reportedly had diarrhea on Friday last week.

The Department of Health said lunches provided to the four institutions were supplied by the same catering service, which has been ordered to stop supplying lunches while health officials investigate the cause of the outbreak.

The department said that 97 percent of cases of diarrhea reported in recent weeks were caused by norovirus infection and increasing numbers of norovirus have been reported in neighboring nations which led the CDC to suspect the outbreak might have also been norovirus.

However, preliminary examinations of 42 specimens collected from 11 chefs and seven teachers and students showed that none of them were infected with norovirus or rotavirus, but the stool samples of three chefs were found to have Bacillus cereus, a type of food-borne pathogenic bacteria.

CDC deputy director-general Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said the centers and the city health department have also conducted a questionnaire on the campuses and concluded that norovirus was unlikely, because most people had mild diarrhea with a with rapid recovery, while few had vomiting or fever. More tests are needed to confirm the cause if the outbreak, he said.

The Food and Drug Administration said Bacillus cereus can be transmitted to food through dust, soil particles or insects, and contaminated food will usually not deteriorate or rot, but the bacteria can grow and produce toxins when food is exposed at room temperature (about 20°C) for too long and cause food poisoning.) for too long and cause food poisoning.

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