x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sharp rise in food-poisoning cases, Abu Dhabi survey shows

A survey by Aby Dhabi's health authority showed that food poisoning cases in the emirate has risen sharply in the last two years, due to factors other than rising temperature.

ABU DHABI // The number of food-poisoning cases has risen greatly in the past two years, figures show.

A survey by Abu Dhabi's health authority found 627 cases in the first six months of this year, compared with 420 in the same period last year and 288 in 2010.

Rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea, fever and vomiting among children, accounted for more than half the cases, a total of 330. There were 66 cases of salmonella.

"One of the most common is salmonella," said Dr Farida Al Hosani, head of communicable diseases at Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (Haad). "It's common worldwide, it's easily transmitted by poultry and dairy and we see it a lot."

There were 561 food-poisoning cases in 2010 and 667 last year, meaning this year's six-month figure is almost the total for last year.

The figures showed a big jump between the first and second quarters of this year, from 253 to 374.

But Bobby Krishna, senior food studies and surveys officer at Dubai Municipality's food control department, put that down to factors other than the rising temperature.

"April, May and June are the real peaks for typhoid and salmonella because people come back from holiday," said Mr Krishna. "They eat food abroad and they bring back diseases into the country.

"People who travel to less-developed countries bring in illnesses because the water supply there isn't safe. Vegetables grow on water so they can get contaminated and imported here."

But while residents' travels cannot be controlled, authorities are able to tackle issues such as hygiene in labour-camp kitchens.

"We identified a few throughout the years in the Western Region and Abu Dhabi," said Dr Al Hosani.

"Hygiene is the biggest challenge in those camps but I'm sure the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority is working on improving the quality of food there."

From next year, Haad will inoculate children against rotavirus. It is also working with the ADFCA on an online system to help identify food-poisoning outbreaks quickly. The system is at pilot stage and is hoped to be running by early next year.

cmalek@thenational.ae