Buenos Aires province: Leptospirosis and salmonellosis were confirmed in cases of acute diarrhea


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The Buenos Aires Provincial Government reported cases of 4 (four) adults hospitalized with acute diarrhea in Berazategui, which occurred in the first 3 weeks of January 2023, which led to a study of suspected outbreaks of food origin, due to the common history of eating meat and its derivatives.

Analysis of the corresponding samples allows us to confirm the following results:

Photo/Robert Herrmann

Two of the reported cases were presented as a shared history, consuming meat and its derivatives from the same butcher shop (a 48-year-old male, deceased, and a 40-year-old male). In the remaining two cases, no common food source was identified.

The food was confiscated in the designated butcher shop (minced meat and milanese preparation), as well as in the distributor transport (offal). The National Institute of Foods (INAL) of the National Administration of Drugs, Foods, and Medical Technology (ANMAT) performed analysis of the samples, and reported absence of Salmonella and Escherichia coli.

In the past week, leptospirosis was also confirmed in two cases (a 36-year-old man, deceased, and a 47-year-old man who was hospitalized).

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Summary of the identified cases:

A 48-year-old man, who died on 1/12, with diarrhea symptoms onset on 1/8, with a diagnosis of Salmonella typhi in the stool.

A 36-year-old male, with a history of diarrhoea, was admitted on 1/16 with septic shock, and died on 1/17, with a diagnosis of Salmonella and Shigella in the stool, and confirmation of leptospirosis.

A 40-year-old male, symptoms onset in 1/14, was admitted with a diagnosis of erysipelas and diarrhea due to Salmonella, and was discharged in 1/30 with good progression (linked to case 1 for having purchased at the same time a butcher shop).

A 47-year-old man, who had onset of symptoms on 1/17, was admitted to hospital on 1/20 with septic shock, who presented with good progression, and leptospirosis was also confirmed. In this case, no pathogenic bacteria were isolated in the stool material.

In the homes of cases in which leptospirosis was diagnosed, rodent control was carried out by applying rodenticide baits at strategic points in the house and around the house, and serological analyzes were performed on 3 dogs belonging to the family of the deceased case that were found to be negative.

Within the context of the situation described, it is important to remind the population to adopt prevention and care practices for leptospirosis, a disease transmitted to people by direct contact with the urine of infected animals and indirectly, through soil, water or materials contaminated with the urine of said animals.

Bacteria called leptospira are shed in the urine of infected animals, polluting the environment. Reservoirs can be: rodents, dogs, cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, wild animals.

The entry gate for these bacteria into the body is the mucous membranes and rotting skin.

Symptoms of this disease are: Acute fever with headache and myalgia, sometimes followed by jaundice, meningitis, nephropathy, pneumonia, and haemorrhage.

The main prevention and care measures are as follows:

● Avoid the accumulation of water in homes.

● Avoid contact with water and surfaces that may be contaminated.

● Get rid of trash and debris so they don’t become a home for rodents.

● Keep waste in closed containers, preferably off the ground to prevent it from being a food source for rodents.

● Store food in dry and cool places, inside jars, plastic containers or cans with lids more than 50 cm from the floor (do not use bags to store them as they are easily broken by rodents).

● Enhancing cleanliness in the house, and covering the openings in the houses through which rodents can enter.

● Sterilize with diluted bleach the places where rodents have been observed crossing, or there may be traces of rodent feces or urine, using gloves and shoes. Avoid sweeping or doing work that may raise dust.

● Control rodents in homes.

● Use rubber gloves and boots to do rat exterminators, remove weeds, or clean up empty spaces. Workers exposed to occupational hazards should especially adopt these guidelines.

When the above symptoms appear, the nearest health service should be consulted quickly.

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