No food poisoning cases reported in Oamaru

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There have been no reported cases in North Otago of a painful epidemic of food poisoning that is sweeping through New Zealand, Oamaru Hospital chief executive Robert Gonzales says.

Packaged carrots and lettuce are being blamed for the food poisoning caused by bacteria Yersinia pseudotuberculosis with more than 100 people having been reported as suffering from the symptoms which mimic appendicitis.

Mr Gonzales said while there had been no reported cases, people in North Otago should undertake hand hygiene to protect themselves.

The Oamaru Hospital and health professionals use standard precautions which are a set of practices to ensure staff and patients are not at risk of transfer of organisms, he said.

“This is part of our usual clinical practice staff adhere to.

“Any instances of increased risk a patient would be placed into isolation and staff would use increased protective practices such as contact precautions.”

Anyone with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting should contact their GP, drink a lot of fluids, rest and stay home until 48 hours symptom free, Mr Gonzales said.

The bacteria causes painful stomach cramps with diarrhoea resulting on rare occasions and can be extremely unpleasant for the person involved.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said at this stage it was still trying to determine what caused the outbreak.

MPI said it was too early to be certain about the source of the pathogen and as a result direct people away from foods that have no proven risk for consumers.

However, MPI said there was a credible link that food was the likely source.

– Additional reporting NZH

By RUBY HARFIELD