Saturday, 4 June 2011
Thai hospitals on E coli alert
BANGKOK, June 4 -- Thai hospitals nationwide have been instructed to be on alert for a deadly new toxic strain of E coli that has killed about 20 people worldwide. It is believed to have originated from poor hygiene at a farm, in transit, or in a shop or food outlet, senior Thai public health ministry officials said.
Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Paijit Warachit said the ministry’s Disease Control Department found that typically about one million patients suffering from diarrhoea are found in tropical countries annually. Since the beginning of this year, about 530,000 patients suffering from diarrhoea were found in Thailand, of which 21 died, but no cases of the rare strain of the bacteria which is now attacking European countries were found in this country so far.
Dr Paijit said his ministry is now monitoring E coli in two ways: through food and drug checkpoints which is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and through hospitals throughout the country which have been told to immediately send samples for laboratory tests on patients suspected of suffering from acute diarrhoea.
Dr Rungrueng Kitphati, director of the Bureau of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said hospitals nationwide have been instructed to accelerate diagnosing patients suffering from severe diarrhoea and send samples for laboratory tests as Thailand has never experienced this disease before, and people should not panic because the number of patients found in Europe now is still relatively small.
“There are reports that the source of E.coli is attributed to changes in environment which has contaminated food and agricultural products. People who have eaten these contaminated food will suffer from acute diarrhea and frequent vomiting, causing kidney to function abnormally and some patients would die between three or four days after being infected,” Dr. Rungruang said.
Dr Pipat Yingseri, secretary-general of FDA, said his office had conducted random tests on vegetables and fruits from Spain and Germany but did not find any of them tainted with the new bacteria.
Reuters, a global news agency quoted European health institutes as saying yesterday that the spread of E coli can be contained by washing vegetables and hands before eating, or preparing food to avoid bacteria being passed on from the faeces of an infected person.
The failure to find the source of the outbreak, complicated by the fact that salads include a variety of ingredients from different producers often from different countries, has becoming increasingly worrying for health authorities and consumers, Reuters said.
The centre of the outbreak of the deadly bacteria was reported in early May in Hamburg, Germany, and the number of those detected with the disease in that country rose to 1,733 with the death toll at 18 as of yesterday, according to Reuters. (MCOT online news)