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  • shinnie 5:18 pm on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , other microorganisms, Oysters, , skin lesion, V. vulnificus, Vibrio vulnificus,   

    Three Cases of “Flesh-eating”

    Bacterial Infections in Hong



    Three cases of necrotizing fasciitis— an infection caused by bacteria that destroys skin, fat, and the tissue covering the muscles in a short period of time—have been reported in Hong Kong during the month of July in 2015. Similar sporadic cases have also been reported in April and August of 2015 in Hong Kong. The affected include: an 82-year-old man and 78-year-old woman with underlying chronic illnesses and a 59-year-old man with good past health.

    Source: http://outbreaknewstoday.com/hong-kong-reports-3-necrotizing-fasciitis-cases-in-july-vibrio-vulnificus-the-culprit-51333/

    The causative agent is a rare but deadly pathogen, Vibrio vulnificus and its name literally translates to “causing wounds” in Latin. V. vulnificus is one of the three major species of Vibrio, with the other two being V. cholera and V. parahaemolyticus both of which are pathogens of humans.

    Vibrio vulnificus

    V. vulnificus is a Gram-negative, lactose-fermenting, opportunistic (similar to L. monocytogenes), and motile curved bacterium commonly found in marine and estuarine environments. It is a moderate halophile (requires salt for growth) and is frequently isolated from oysters, clams, crabs, and other shellfish in warm coastal waters. It is responsible for causing 95 percent of all seafood-related deaths and has a mortality rate of over 50% in North America. The mortality rates varied in Hong Kong, being 35% for septicaemia cases and 20% for wound-infection cases.

    V. vulnificus has the ability to cause wound infections, gastroenteritis, or a syndrome known as primary septicemia. Infections among healthy individuals are acute and do not have long-term consequences; ingestion of this bacterium causes mild symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain usually within 16 hours.

    In the immunocompromised population however, V. vulnificus can trigger further complications and has the potential to invade the bloodstream from an open wound or from the gastrointestinal tract, causing primary septicemia – a severe and life-threatening illnesses. This disease is characterized by fever, chills, septic shock that is soon followed by death. The three patients affected in Hong Kong had to either undergo amputation or excisional debridement.

    V. vulnificus (There are much worse pictures than this one!)

    Individuals are considered high-risk and vulnerable to infection if they have underlying chronic diseases or liver diseases [i.e. diabetes, cirrhosis, leukemia, lung cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), AIDS- related complex (ARC), or asthma requiring the use of steroid]. They are 80-200 times more likely to develop primary septicemia than healthy individuals.

    The infective dose for healthy individuals is unidentified but for immunocompromised persons, septicemia occurs with doses of less than 100 total organisms. The incubation period is 1 – 7 days after eating and the duration of illness ranges from 2 to 8 days. Diagnostic methods are similar to those used to detect common foodborne pathogens and revolve around culturing of the organism from wounds, diarrheic stools, or blood. Methods such as the Quantitative Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification can quantitatively detect V. vulnificus in raw oysters with high speed, specificity, and sensitivity.

    Measures that can be taken to prevent illness include:
    • Avoid going into the ocean with open wounds (I think most people neglect this)
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish
    • Before cooking: Discard any oysters with open shells
    • During cooking: Boil for 3-5 minutes after shells open.
    • After cooking: Discard any oysters with shells that did not open.

    There have been many sporadic cases of V. vulnificus in Hong Kong over the past decade. Although the Centre for Health Protection of Hong Kong offers various Internet resources on how to prevent V. vulnificus infections, many of the victims are the elderly and are less likely to be able to access this information. I believe that more focus needs to be directed to relaying information on opportunistic foodborne pathogens to the elderly and immunocompromised in a manner that is not via the internet, i.e. various clinics and hospitals should offer them pamphlets and communicate with them verbally. In 2013, Health Canada has collaborated with the FAO, WHO, and the government of Japan to produce expert recommendations to the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene regarding V. vulnificus. Appropriate methods to monitor environmental hygiene and hygienic production, etc. can be found in Codex Alimentarius Guidelines on the Application of General Principles of Food Hygiene to the Control of Pathogenic Vibrio Species in Seafood.

    Questions for thought:

    1. Is this pathogen present in other geographical areas?

    2. Which method(s) would be most suitable to detect the presence of this pathogen based on it transmission route?


    Codex Alimentarius (2010). International Food Standards. Guidelines on the Application of General Principles of Food Hygiene to the Control of Pathogenic Vibrio Species in Seafood. Retrieved from: http://www.codexalimentarius.org/standards/list-of-standards/

    FDA (2015). Vibrio vulnificus. Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook. Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/CausesOfIllnessBadBugBook/ucm070473.htm

    Han, F., Wang, F., & Ge, B. (2011). Detecting potentially virulent vibrio vulnificus strains in raw oysters by quantitative loop-mediated isothermal amplification. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 77(8), 2589-2595.

    Lee, S. E., Kim, S. Y., Kim, S. J., Kim, H. S., Shin, J. H., Choi, S. H.. . Rhee, J. H. (1998). Direct identification of vibrio vulnificus in clinical specimens by nested PCR. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 36(10), 2887-2892.

    Ma, J (2012). Vibrio vulnificus in food. Food Safety Focus, 72. Retrieved from: http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_72_01.html

    Stone, J. (2015). With Global Warming, Expect More Deadly Vibrio Cases. Pharma & Healthcare. Forbes. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2015/07/30/with-global-warming-expect-more-deadly-vibrio-cases/

    Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (2015). Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan. Retrieved from: https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/hidb-bdih/plan-eng.aspx?Org=0&Hi=85&Pl=403

    Vibrio vulnificus (2013). Vibrio Illness (Vibriosis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/vibriov.html

    • elaine chan 3:37 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely an interesting, yet scary article! Commonly, food illnesses are related to gastrointestinal diseases, it’s my first time seeing how it can also lead to wound formation, and subsequently amputations and excisional debridements! This is definitely a wake up call for the food and marine industry to ensure the safety of their products for consumers. To determine whether or not this pathogen can be found in other geographical areas, I think it will be important to determine the pathogen’s favourable growth conditions and then evaluate which geographical areas has the potential of promoting the growth of such pathogen.

    • csontani 3:46 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is definitely interesting to read! I’ve never heard of this pathogen before and it’s scary knowing what it can do to you. After reading this, the first question that popped in my mind was “is this pathogen a concern in where I’m currently living at?”. I certainly agreed with what you said regarding how the health agency should focus on older citizens who are immunosuppressed since they’re less likely to check the internet regarding the foods they’re eating. Maybe the food product packaging could have more information regarding the food and risks it may content or maybe health agency could talk to the senior care centre to give informations regarding these kinds of concerns.

    • angel519 10:24 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Since we live at the coast where we also consume oysters, clams, crabs, and other shellfish, and we also consume imported shellfish from warm coastal water; it is a potential pathogen that could be present at B.C. I think it is necessary to have warnings and publicize the risks of consuming contaminated shellfish to the general public. And for the high-risk population, especially the elderly, grocery stores can have brochures and signs by the shellfish section to tell them how to properly cook shellfish, symptoms of infections and to seek doctors if feel unwell after consumption. It is also important to have regular inspections on shellfish to prevent infected products spreading in the market.

    • Jasmine Lee 1:35 am on November 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This pathogen is by far the most frightening of those that I have come across in this class. It is interesting to learn about a pathogen that thrives in environments with high salt levels. This is concerning since high osmolarity and low water activity are commonly used as hurdles for food safety and bacterial control. I also found it surprising that gender may play a role in regards to the pathogenicity of the V. vulnificus’ toxin. An article claimed that estrogen may assist in protecting against endotoxic shock and lowering the risk of mortality in individuals (Merkel et al., 2001). Furthermore, I agree with Angel that regular inspection of shellfish products and consumer awareness are critical for lowering the risk of exposure. It is also important to post signs along coastlines and have restaurants alert consumers about the associated risk with eating raw seafood. With many biological hazards in raw foods, I hope consumers are more diligent in terms of ensuring food safety and will make informed decisions for themselves.

      Merkel, S.M., Alexander, S., Zufall, E., Oliver, J. D. and Huet-Hudson, Y. M. (2001). Essential role for estrogen in protection against Vibrio vulnificus-induced endotoxic shock. Infection and Immunity, 69(10):6119-6122.

    • Susanna Ko 9:28 am on November 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I find this article really scary because I can see my parents falling victim to this. There’s a lot of canned seafood products (clams, oysters) on the market. Cuisine with oysters is probably very popular as well. My parents like to add canned oysters into their congee. Perhaps popular asian newspapers should have a food safety section. I know my parents will probably read it.

    • cheryl lau 3:20 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This was a very scary article to read! However, I think it is necessary to point out the dangers we face when we expose ourselves to harmful microorganisms. Even though our bodies have defenses in place to fight invaders, they may not be as sound as we think. In this case, V. vulnificus caused serious consequences. I feel that most people in Hong Kong do not realize the serious affects that could follow from eating contaminated seafood. Specifically, the elderly or the people from our parents’ generation may not have been educated in food safety and I think these issues should be more prominent in the media.

    • EmilyLi 9:40 pm on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a very interesting yet scary article to read. I think you title is very eye catching too. I personally like to eat seafood, and especially if you travel to coastal city like Hong Kong how could you resist the seafood there. Although in the article it mention that the pathogen is only high risk for immunocompromised individuals. However, with knowing that you are infected with a pathogen that is likely to breakdown flesh in your body is quite scary. Especially when you could catch those with just wound on you legs and going to the beach.

    • EmilyChow 3:25 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s scary to think about these cases because they could potentially also happen here on the west coast of North America! This bacteria can possibly survive in pacific water conditions and contaminate the seafood we have here. In addition, seafood is imported and exported around the world so this is a concern for international seafood lovers. Since seafood can be enjoyed in different ways (canned, cooked, raw), it’s important to have strict processing regulations and make sure that such regulations apply for all pathogens, considering V. vulnificus is relatively rare.

  • CindyDai 3:07 am on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cyclospora, Cyclosporiasis, , other microorganisms, ,   

    Cyclospora Outbreaks are Hitting North America 

    Public health officials are warning about a series of Cyclospora outbreaks in US and Canada.

    Source: http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/fda-on-29-state-cyclospora-outbreak-tied-to-mexican-cilantro/#.VkWSAPlViko

    From May to August 2015, 546 peoples from 31 states in US became sick due to Cyclospora infection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicated that this outbreak has been linked to imported fresh produce, including cilantro from the Puebla region of Mexico.

    Around the same time, a total of 97 Cyclosporiasis cases were reported in Canada, mainly in Ontario. Two cases were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported. The source of this outbreak was not identified.

    On October 17, CFIA announced that Costco Wholesale Canada is voluntarily recalling Alpine Fresh brand snap peas in Ontario due to possible Cyclospora contamination. At least 22 illnesses have been linked to the recalled snap peas.

    What is cyclospora?

    Cyclospora, a microscopic parasite, causes an intestinal infection known as cyclosporiasis. The parasite is typically found in imported fresh vegetables and fruits such as basil, cilantro, pre-packaged salad mix, mesclun lettuce, snow peas, and raspberries. People usually become infected with Cyclospora by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with feces, and this parasite is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical countries. Cyclospora cannot be passed directly from one person to another.

    The life cyle of cyclosporiasis:
    Source: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/biology.html

    Why I haven’t heard of it before?

    The public may not be as familiar with Cyclospora as some other foodborne pathogens because Cyclospora only came to medical attention about 40 years ago. This parasite was once primarily a concern for developing countries, but since the 1990s there have been more and more Cyclospora outbreaks in North America linked to contaminated imported fresh greens.

    How serious is the illness?

    Cyclospora is generally considered as a low-risk foodborne pathogen. Infected people usually experience watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weight loss, and abdominal bloating, while some people do not get sick at all. The illness may last from a few days to a month. People who have previously been infected can become infected again. The combination of 2 antibiotics, trimethoprim (TMP) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX), is used to treat Cyclospora infection.

    How can it be prevented?

    According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avoiding food or water that might have been contaminated with stool is the most efficient way to prevent cyclosporiasis. Contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled. Both washing fresh produce and treating it with chlorine or iodine are not sufficient enough to eliminate the parasite. Microbial food safety hazards for fresh fruits and vegetables, including Cyclospora, must be controlled by addressing good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs).

    Here is an educational video about Cyclospora:


    For more information, please check out (References):

    CDC, 2015. Parasites – Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infection). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/

    CFIA, 2015. Food Recall Warning – Alpine Fresh brand Snap Peas recalled due to Cyclospora. Retrieved from http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2015-10-17/eng/1445121740221/1445121744219

    Cinnaminson N.J., 2015. Cyclospora Contamination and Infection Risks. Retrieved from http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=200735

    Food Safety News, 2015. CDC: Cyclospora Outbreak Linked to Mexican Cilantro Sickened 546 People. Retrieved from http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/cdc-recent-cyclospora-outbreak-linked-to-mexican-cilantro-is-over/#.VkWGv_lViko

    Mulholland A., 2015. Cyclospora outbreak: What you need to know about the parasite, illness. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/cyclospora-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-parasite-illness-1.2509552

    • WinnieLiao 11:11 am on November 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I really like how you organize the blog into Q and A! It makes the article so much easier to follow. Besides bacterial contamination in our food leading to foodborne illnesses, we probably often forget about other organisms such as parasites! Cyclospora is definitely one that is quite uncommonly known. I find the section on how serious the illness is and the prevention methods to be useful and informative! Regarding the ways of prevention, is there anything we can do as public to avoid the contamination? Would cooking for a certain amount of time be helpful in eliminating the parasite in our foods?

    • Stephanie Chen 5:39 pm on November 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting and informative article! The video is helpful as well. I agree with Winnie that many people may overlook contamination in food other than the commonly heard-of bacteria. It is scary to think that these fresh vegetables and fruits that we may consume often in our diet, such as basil, cilantro, and pre-packaged salad mixes may be a source of parasites like Cyclospora. We need to remember that contaminated food does not always show visible signs of spoilage. Safe handling of fresh produce still needs to be practiced to decrease the likelihood of getting an infection!

    • KristinaRichmond 6:15 pm on November 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’d never heard of Cyclospora before, so thanks for the info! I think it’s interesting that the number of outbreaks has been increasing, and I wonder if it’s due to more contaminated food or just better testing and identification in recent years. It’s alarming that it’s found on fresh greens and isn’t killed by treated washing. I think this really ties into Justin’s lecture, and like you said addressing good agricultural practices.

    • flyingsquirrel 4:58 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is quite alarming because as eating fruits and vegetables becomes more important in public health, the demand for production of these popular foods (salad mixes, peas etc.) also goes up. Many of these foods are produced south of the border and even to Mexico! I read in an article a couple months back on the recall for cilantro because there had been some sort of contamination. The article reported that upon inspection of the farm in which the produce was grown, they found used toilet papers and human fecal remains. It just brings shivers down my spine to find that something that this could have been prevented. However this also brings to light the conditions of workers on the farm in which they do not have a proper toilet.

    • teewong 2:59 pm on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I feel that more people should be aware of how easily fresh produce could be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites! Especially when it comes to vegetables that don’t require or are not meant to be cooked, it is really frightening to know that there’s very little that we could do as consumers to ensure our own food safety. Since chlorine wash technique is not a common method used in household, it means that there is even a higher chance for us to be affected by fresh produce than by consuming meat. I feel that prevention starting from the farm side is definitely a key in protecting the consumers. They should check their water irrigation system on a daily basis.

    • CandiceZheng 3:41 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the informative blog! We’ve been discussing foodborne pathogens for the whole term and I have never heard about this pathogen before. I really appreciate your explanation about Cyclospora, which is very clear, informative, and well organized into Q&A format. It is quite shocking that there are many illnesses associated to the recalled snap peas, which is one of my favorite snack in my spare time. I’ve always considered it healthy and nutritious, but I never thought about the potential pathogen contamination associated with it.

    • YaoWang 12:25 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Just as what other people have mentioned above, the blog is really informative as I’ve never heard about the microorganism before. And the format of the blog is really easy for us to follow. Thank you Cindy. By the way, I think at this time, people should really be careful when handling fresh vegetables as they are vulnerable to many food-borne pathogens.

  • Carissa Li 3:18 am on November 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cassava, Cholera, , other microorganisms   

    Cholera Outbreak in Africa 

    Cholera, an infection that is commonly found in central Africa, has affected thousands of millions of people every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that is caused by the strains of a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. V. cholerae is a pathogen that colonizes the small intestine and causes symptoms such as watery diarrhea and vomiting. If left untreated, people will suffer from severe dehydration and leads to death within hours.

    During March 2015, there were more than 10 students hospitalized after consuming cooked cassava tuber, which is a kind of African salad in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi in Nigeria. They suffered from stooling right after the meal and went to hospital as the condition became worsen.

    After investigation, they confirmed that this is a case of cholera, and the food was contaminated by flies, the director of Rural health, Ministry of Health, Dr. Christian Achi explained.

    Cassava is a type of plant that is widely eaten as staple food in developing countries. That means many people eat it in a daily basis and if it is infected by V. cholerae, this can cause a huge outbreak of cholera in Africa. Therefore, cooking food thoroughly and maintain hygiene is very important in these areas to prevent any disease outbreak.


    Many of us think that keeping our equipment clean and fully cook food are the essential things that we should do and are enough to prevent any disease. We never thought of flies to be the transmission route of bacteria. Flies carry bacteria from contaminated food to other non-contaminated food and cause people to be infected. Therefore, keeping the environment clean to avoid any insects from contacting food is also a key to preventing cholera.

    According to the data provided by WHO, almost 45% of cholera cases were reported from Africa in 2013. Although the number of reported cases has already decreased compare to previous years, the reason why there are still more than ten thousand reported cases this year is probably due to flooding in Africa. This is because another way cholera contaminate food other than flies is through water. Flooding causes all the food soaked in dirty water and thus be contaminated by V. cholerae very easily. Also, due to all kinds of economical situations and limited water resources, people will drink water without processing such as boiling or filtering. As a result, cholera is widely spread in these areas where there is inadequate environmental management.

    Cholera vaccineThe method people use to treat cholera is by oral rehydration salts (ORS), a treatment that is indicated by WHO. Severe diarrhea will leads to dehydration so ORS is a very effective and efficient way on rehydrating people. Anitibiotics are also used to shorten diarrhea duration. To control the outbreak of cholera due to weather such as raining season, they will introduce cholera vaccines to people. The following video shows the situations people are facing in Africa and how they are treating cholera using vaccination. In order to prevent cholera outbreak, improving sanitation and access of safe drinking water are the keys, which are also indicated on the video. We shall not neglect the importance of improving environmental conditions such as household hygiene, water filtration, development of water pipe system by treating disinfectants, etc. These strategies can upgrade their living conditions and minimize the chance of getting infected.







    • BarbaraCorreiaFaustino 12:02 am on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Such an interesting article! It is scary that even though the cooking utensils may be clean, the food can still be contaminated with the Vibrio bacteria and cause a severe diarrheal infection in the people that consume that contaminated food. Just like it is stated in the previous article about Cryptosporidium, it is very important to treat the water to make it potable in places where you cannot be sure if that water is safe, such as locations affected by flooding, to avoid being infected. Unfortunately, in some countries in Africa many people does not have access to potable water, so the local health authorities should make it a priority to provide drinkable water to prevent cholera outbreaks.

    • Silvia Low 8:31 pm on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reading this reminds me of how grateful I should be to live in a place where we have access to clean water all of the time. It’s silly how so many people take water for granted and don’t realize that people actually die from not having clean water almost every single day. It takes some as simple as teaching people the importance of boiling/sanitizing water before using it to save a life, yet deaths still occur. This is such a frustrating situation.

    • WinnieLiao 8:47 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Numbers do matter! Only Africa alone contributed 45% of Cholera cases. Contaminated water and food are some direct concerns, but these might also indirectly affect the population as well. Environments that are insanitary can be an ideal place for the breeding of flies and pests that can propagate illnesses. Furthermore contamination of water can only make matters worse when people consume it for rehydration. Using this water for irrigation of produces poses a concern. It is great to know that effort has been made to provide the area with ORS and that the problem of contamination has been recognized.

    • AngeliMalimban 9:11 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s crazy how much cholera is easily spread throughout to cause such an epidemic. Vancouver luckily does have one of the cleanest water supplies in the world – there are people I know who do not hesitate to drink from the tap (myself included). As Silvia said, we are definitely lucky. Sadly it does not seem like many places in Africa have an understanding about why CLEAN water is so important. Many many times do I hear stories about children that just grab water wherever they see it just so that they can have some water to drink. I think that it is very important that the government/ministry of health realizes that this is such an issue and that they make efforts to get education out there for the remote villages. That way, they can learn about HOW to properly sanitize food/water and how to prevent diseases, and why it is so important to do so.

  • ColleenChong 10:12 pm on November 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cryptosporidium, , , , other microorganisms,   

    Warning: Water supply contaminated with the parasite Cryptosporidium 

    Most North Americans and Europeans consume fresh tap water daily without any concern. These developed countries have advance filter systems, implemented chlorine treatments and/or radiation treatments; such as ultraviolet light to kill pathogens. Since the water supply is treated many would believe the source is safe. Is that always true?


    This past August the water supply of several Lancashire districts in England (Blackpool, Preston, Chorley, Fylde, Wyre and South Ribble) was contaminated with an infectious parasite, Cryptosporidium. About 300,000 Lancashire households were put on alert. This parasite causes the disease cryptosporidiosis, which includes symptoms stomach cramping, dehydration, vomiting, nausea, and weight-loss. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. These symptoms may appear after 2 days and last up to 30 days after infection. Chronic or fatal illness maybe develop in susceptible population; which includes immunocompromised, young children, and the elderly.

    This parasite is a concern when it comes to the consumption of tap water because it is extremely resistant to chlorine, therefore; the chlorinated treatments have little effect on the parasite. The water company United Utilities advised everyone to boil their water before consumption.

    Due this parasitic discovery panic was all over. A local mentioned, “This water thing in Blackpool is a nightmare just went to the corner shop and they were on the last few bottles!” Major supermarkets were running short bottled water since “nobody can drink the water in Blackpool because it’s contaminated and now there’s no water left in any shops.” With the high demand of water and the short supply, people were selling water on the internet for ridiculously high prices.

    Water shortage in Supermarkets

    United Utilises reassured the public that they were monitoring Cryptosporidium levels carefully through continuous testing. Only trace amounts remain in the source after the first week of August, United Utilities issued boiled water notice until mid-August.

    This is a rare occurrence. In 2005 an outbreak of cryptosporidium affected 231people in North Wales and the Cymrus Welsh Water was fined £60,000 and spent another £70,000 to compensate the affected individuals. As for the cryptosporidium contamination from August there were no confirm cases of sickness. An outbreak was avoided due to the quick action United Utilities took.

    Here’s a Brief video for your interest!

    Sources of contamination (fecal-oral route):
    • Animal waste
    • Water sources

    • Boil water
    • Proper hygiene
    • Wash hands

    • No specific drug to kill organism
    • diarrheal medicine may help slow down diarrhea
    • Consume lots of water

    What is your opinion on drinking tap water? Do you boil or treat your water?


    • yichen25 12:46 am on November 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Growing up in Malaysia where we don’t have the privilege to drinkable tap water, it has been a practice for us to boil our water before drinking. Even after coming to Canada, I still continue to do so. I personally think that even with the advanced filtering systems and treatments, there is still the possibility of post-treatment contamination as the pipes that carried the water to household might be contaminated. Therefore, I strongly believe that boiling yr water before drinking is the best way to avoid being contracted with any unwanted diseases.

    • MarinaMoon 3:00 am on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Similar to Yichen, back in Korea we always boiled our water before drinking because the tap water was not safe to drink. However, for me, after coming to Canada, I adapted a habit of drinking from tap water especially since I started living by myself. I never doubted that there could be a contamination in something that I consume everyday, but now I realized that I should be more concerned about what I consume and although it is still safe in Canada, to boil the water before drinking. It’s scary how there seems to be increase in pathogens that are resistant to so many sanitation practices. This particular pathogen only cause mild symptoms which is relieving, but I wonder what would happen when something more resistant and more pathogenic appear in food product or water that we consume everyday. In the future, there could be pathogens that arise which is resistant to chlorine and heat, which would further complicate the prevention process.

    • catherine wong 10:42 pm on November 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This was an extremely interesting article. At home I always boil my water before drinking it because I’ve heard about tap water being unsafe to drink sometimes. However when I’m out in the public and didn’t bring enough boiled water from home, I do sometimes drink tap water. I also agreed with Yichen that full trust cannot be placed in advanced filter systems and treatments due to the possibility of post-treatment contamination and there could always be the chance of these systems failing. Sometimes just a flaw in the system could cause great problems and it was just nice to know that there were no confirm cases of sickness for this occurrence. After reading this article, I think I might refrain from tap water even if I’m a little thirsty because it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of getting sick.

    • elaine chan 3:01 pm on November 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely an interesting article! Water intake is an essential element for human survival, so with an incident like this occurring, it is no surprise that it has caused a panic across the region. I feel rather grateful that I’m living in an area where water filtration systems are present, and the water is safe for consumption once it’s deposited from our taps. However, like Yichen mentioned, at times, there can be flaws in the water filter and treatment systems. Growing up, my family has always had the practice of boiling the water from our tap prior to consumption. It has become a common practice for myself as well , and it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea implement this extra step for safety measures.

    • RainShen 4:23 pm on November 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The safety of drinking water was a big problem in the China before I came the Canada. My family definitely would boil the tape water before drink to make sure all the pathogens have been killed and the water is safe to consume. I know some households in China they do have their own water filter system at home for filtering and de-contaminating their drink water, since the tap water would not only contains some pathogens, but also some heavy metal ions. Therefore, wherever I go, I will boil the tap water if I wanna drink it. Even through the water treatment system here in Canada is very efficient, it may still get contaminated after the treatment before consumed by human.

    • amreenj 1:39 pm on November 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! It is so scary to think that this contamination of drinking water occurred despite the precautionary measures in place to prevent such things from occurring. Having lived in Vancouver all my life, I hadn’t though about this ever occurring. However, I have travelled to a number of countries in which the problem of contaminated drinking water does frequently occur. I think that the quick action taken by the water company prevented a major outbreak of this chronic/ fatal disease. I think that this case serves as a reminder that we must still be aware of the potential for contamination in “safe” drinking water and that water companies should continue to ensure that their water is in fact properly sterilized.

    • JorgeMadrigalPons 10:57 pm on November 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In Mexico, there is also big issues with drinking tap water, since it is not treated for drinking purposes. I almost never drink tap water in my country. Mostly, people buy bottled water for consumption, but many small local food businesses do not. I have heard of many outbreaks caused by the usage of tap water by ice-cream shops, taco shops, etc, (mainly food street). I think that it would be of great benefit to the health of Mexicans, if the gouverment implemented advanced water treatment systems.

    • dgozali 1:28 am on November 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! Ive always been boiling my water before I came to canada but changed my routine when i started living here. I think this is a step that is often overlooked in countries where tap water is drinkable, yet it is probably the most crucial step in preventing outbreaks because water is needed by everyone for drinking and also for washing other foods. If the water has been contaminated, it can go on to cross contaminate fruits and vegetables that are washed with it.

    • Michelle Ebtia 11:13 am on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was initially surprised to learn that there are no effective treatments for patients infected with this parasite! So I did a quick research and found out that there is a moderately effective drug called nitazoxanide available for treatment. However more research needs to be done to come up with an effective option, which according to Miyamoto and Eckmann (2015), has not occurred due to insufficient funding, mainly because historically, this problem has only existed in developing countries. Since the case reported in this blog has happened in England, one might wonder if the research would now gain some momentum.

      Work Cited:
      Eckmann, L. (2015). Drug development against the major diarrhea-causing parasites of the small intestine, Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6, 1208.

    • Mandy Tam 9:23 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think chlorine is the major hurdle that most countries have in their water to eliminate pathogen. Knowing that this might not work 100%, I think this is more scarier than Lauren’s post. I think more and more I read the blogs, I really need to reconsider my own eating habits. Maybe I should start boiling my water before consumption.

      Anyhow, I am surprised how little researches have been done on such matter after reading Michelle comment. Maybe more surveillance and research should be done in such matter as a lot of people drink water from the tab.

    • teewong 6:43 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is very interesting, especially when both occurrence happened verily close to each other. It makes me wonder if the water companies are taking every precaution to detect these sort of contaminations before it even affects the water. Also, I read from your prevention section that washing hands will help, but I was wondering with what water do we wash hands with when the tap source is contaminated already?
      This is a frightening problem to me since I live in Vancouver and we drink out of the tap 80% of the time when we visit restaurants. This could be a potential hazard for many of us if it were to happen in Vancouver as well! I can also see that companies that make bottled water will use this chance to profit from people as it would cause shortages on bottled water supplies when such thing happens.

    • MichelleLui 9:53 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting article! There are so many factors that could contaminate the city water, such as backflow, old pipes and etc.. Preventative measures such as putting in a reverse osmosis system and boiling water are recommended. I have a reverse osmosis system which works for me.

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