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Water checks after typhoid alert in Bahrain.

Byline: Manama

Bahrain Health Ministry officials are conducting tests on food and water supplies across the country to pinpoint the cause of 17 cases of typhoid fever.

They were reported in Bahrain during the last two weeks and all investigations had so far come back negative.

Health Ministry communicable disease control unit head Dr Adele Al Sayyad said the results on water and food supplies had come back negative but tests were still continuing.

"We are expanding our tests on food because we saw certain connections in patients and maybe there is a common source or food outlet or they have been exposed to the same restaurant," he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News.

"We are trying hard to find connections among the cases and from there we are trying to pinpoint the source of the infection.

"We are sending an alert to health centres about such an outbreak to help identify more mild cases."

Health Ministry disease control section chief and acting director of public health Dr Mona Al Mousawi said it was usual to see patients with the infection during the summer.

She, however, said the number of people with the typhoid fever was slightly higher than usual this year and instead of being localised they had been reported in all regions of the country.

"We started investigating the cases and we sent a team from the disease control section to take samples from the patients," said Dr Al Mousawi.

"We also sent a team from the food control section to take the history of the food they had consumed to take samples from the source.

"The water tanks in their houses and the main water supply in their area was tested.

"We are collecting samples on a daily basis. Almost all the lab results are negative."

Dr Al Mousawi said Bahrain was free from pandemic transmission of the virus but because many people travelled abroad and depended on eating from outside the home they could come into contact with contaminated food and drink.

She advised people eating outside their homes to only drink mineral or boiled water and avoid eating raw food.

"It's better to eat cooked food and the food must be hot to kill any bacteria," she said.

Typhoid fever is transmitted through contaminated food and water or from being in close contact with an infected person.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, body ache and diarrhoea. However, a person having a fever for three days or more with no other symptoms may also be suspected of having typhoid fever.

Symptoms can last anything from a few days up to three weeks, but usually between a week and 10 days.

Suspected cases are usually referred to the hospital and those testing positive are given antibiotics or other medicines depending on the requirements.

"I advise anyone who is infected not to share their drink with others or eat in the same place because the bacteria can be transmitted," said Dr Mousawi. "They must also wash their hands frequently and especially after going to the toilet."- TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Aug 5, 2009
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