The Ministry of Health says four persons have been affected by conch poisoning, also known as Vibrio parahaemolyticus, poisoning in recent days. The cases were revealed by Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands during a recent press briefing.
“The Ministry assures the public it is monitoring these instances and, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, is taking the necessary steps to protect the health of those affected and through targeted interventions prevent further cases.”
Symptoms of infection
The minister when ingested, the Vibrio bacteria can cause watery diarrhea, often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. He also indicated usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last about three days. “Severe illness is rare and typically occurs in people with a weakened immune system.”
He said Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a “halophilic” organism, meaning that it requires salt water to live.
“To decrease the risk of becoming ill after eating conch, which we know is a national food, the Ministry is advising that the conch be cooked or if eaten raw, should be thoroughly washed in clean fresh water, to remove the bacteria from the conch.”
The Health Minister said this in keeping with the Government’s stated policy regarding conch handling since the i990’s. Additionally, all conch vendors are required to take a food handlers course as well as have fresh potable water at their stalls.