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Routine medical Screening of food handlers identifies shigella

During its routine screening of food handlers, the Public Health Authority recorded 15 out of 456 Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) factory employees who tested positive for Shigella.

Shigella is a group of bacteria which causes the infection shigellosis. Some people who are infected with the bacteria may have no symptoms at all.

At the time of screening the workers who tested positive had no symptoms. They were excluded from handling food until they completed a course of antibiotics and repeated a test for Shigella with negative results.

Screening for certain harmful bacteria by the Public Health Authority is routinely done in all food establishments to prevent food borne infections.  

The purpose is to identify employees who present a risk for transmitting foodborne pathogens, such as Shigella, to food or to other employees.

Shigellosis is one of such infection. It is a disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most people who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria.

Although some people who are infected with the bacteria may have no symptoms at all, the Shigella bacteria may still be passed to others. The spread of Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful hand washing with soap and water as well as taking other hygiene measures. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days.

In view of the above, The Public Health authority would like to reassure the public that there is no outbreak in IOT. The Public Health Authority and its partners will continue to work together to ensure that food safety is being well applied in the food industry.