Home Life Health Food Thousands sick in E. coli outbreaks reported in Japan and South Korea

Thousands sick in E. coli outbreaks reported in Japan and South Korea


Thousands sick in E. coli outbreaks reported in Japan and South Korea

Officials in Korea are investigating an E. coli outbreak that has affected 100 people while more than 3,000 students and teachers recently got food poisoning in Japan, according to media reports.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has been investigating an Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) outbreak with the local municipality and relevant ministries since mid-June. EHEC is also known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

The outbreak in a kindergarten in Ansan-si, Gyeonggi Province had 58 confirmed cases as of late June with 114 people showing symptoms. Most of these are students of the kindergarten but three are family members of pupils.

A total of 21 people — 19 kindergarten students and two family members — were in hospital for inpatient care. Sixteen people — 14 students and two family members — had onset of symptoms suspected to be hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infection, and four people were receiving dialysis treatment.

To prevent infection, KCDC advised people to wash hands and maintain good personal hygiene, sufficiently cook all food including beef, separate cookware and ensure that people with diarrhea or other symptoms do not cook food. Annual tracking for STEC by KCDC suggests the number of cases is relatively low.

Outbreak in Japan
Meanwhile, more than 3,400 teachers and students at 15 schools in Yashio, Saitama Prefecture were struck down with food poisoning in late June, according to media reports in Japan.

The outbreak is believed to have affected 3,453 people after they ate a supplied lunch that included fried chicken, a tuna and potato dish, seaweed salad, and rice and miso soup.

Symptoms included diarrhea and abdominal pain but are not thought to be serious. E. coli was detected in the feces of some patients and was later found in the seaweed salad.

In 1996, an E. coli O157 outbreak occurred in primary schools in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, where more than 7,500 cases were reported. EHEC is a reportable disease in Japan and usually about 4,000 cases are reported annually in the country.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can become bloody. Fever and vomiting may also occur. The incubation period can range from three to eight days and most patients recover within 10 days.

E. coli is transmitted to humans primarily through consumption of contaminated food, such as raw or undercooked ground meat, raw milk, and raw vegetables and sprouts.

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