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New Zealand Food Poisoning Bug Blamed on Carrots and Lettuce, Over 100 People Affected.

The latest food poisoning epidemic spreading in New Zealand is blamed on packaged carrots and lettuce. According to reports, cases of food poisoning have reached more than 100 as New Zealanders seek treatment for symptoms similar to appendicitis.

Cases of food poisoning were reported in the Bay of Plenty with five people recorded by Toi Te Ora who were found to have been suffering a from a stomach bug. Health authorities believe the bug is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

Reports said the presence of bacteria in the human body can trigger stomach cramps with diarrhoea in some cases. Phil Shoemack, chief medical officer of health, said the reports of food poisoning were "unusual" since it appears to be related to consuming packaged lettuces and carrots. Although the actual cause has not yet been identified, Shoemack said to have more than 100 cases across the country in two weeks is not normal.

He declared that doctors that Toi Te Ora is working with health officials in Wellington to identify the exact cause of the outbreak. He said loose fruits and vegetables were not involved in the outbreak. Shoemack believes the issue could be a problematic batch of carrots and lettuce.

Meanwhile, ( TVNZ reports the Ministry for Primary Industries has refused to confirm lettuces and carrots were behind the food poisoning cases that has affected more than 100 Kiwis and with 38 in the hospital for treatment.

An MPI spokesperson said the agency continues to investigate the source of the outbreak. He declared the source has not been identified and declared the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis bacteria may also come from contaminated water, animal contact, and infected fruits and vegetables. The spokesperson said the Ministry believes the outbreak is linked with food, but it was too early to determine the exact source and direct people away from food.

Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey was interviewed on TV One's Breakfast television show and warned people to get rid of old bags of carrots and lettuce since they are linked with the stomach bug.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has advised New Zealanders to observe proper food safety. People are told to throw food that smells bad, wash fruits and vegetables before eating and chill fresh food.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Oct 8, 2014
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