Is Salmonella to blame for the deadly food poisoning in Bor, Jonglei state?

Posted: February 19, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël in Health, Junub Sudan, Philip Thon Aleu

By Philip Thon Aleu, Juba, South Sudan

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February 19, 2018 (SSB) — No official statement has been issued outlining the likely cause(s) of food poisoning in Bor on weekends or stating how the state government is responding to this devastating situation. One person is reportedly dead. Bor hospital and clinics are flooded with individuals (200-300) with similar symptoms: diarrhea and vomiting. And all the patients reportedly ate at a public event on Saturday.

There is something called salmonella; defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative enterobacteria that causes typhoid fever and food poisoning. It can be used as a bioweapon. Agok Takpiny hinted at salmonella in his Facebook post earlier: he wrote: “In all South Sudanese events, food is cooked mostly the night before and continue well into the morning leading to the event which will start in the afternoon.

The event usually begins with none stop speeches which usually go well into midnight. Here some food has entered 24hrs after it has been cooked but not kept in a fridge for well over 12hrs. In extreme heat of South Sudan summer, this food becomes deadly in its own right. It is simple as that, food poisoning in South Sudanese events is predictable and even here in Melbourne people are just counting on their lucks. The solution is to eat food as early as possible and have the speeches thereafter.”

My sources in Bor said the bulls were slaughtered on Friday evening and cooking reportedly started that night. The function began at about noon on Saturday and “none stop speeches” went on till about 5pm. In lame man’s theory, the food, which was not stored in fridges, was exposed to high temperatures for a very long period of time. (Again, I’m not saying there could be no other causes for that particular food poisoning in Bor.) I have been tracking daily weather forecast recently and one reason is to be cautious on what and where to eat, drink and hangout because the temperatures are extremely high. (The good news is that food poisoning has low fatality rate but nevertheless, disturbing.)

Note this about Salmonella illness according to United States’s Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC):

“Salmonella illness is more common in the summer. Warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for Salmonella to grow. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishables (foods likely to spoil or go bad quickly), prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours. Chill them within 1 hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter.”

Since we don’t know what triggered the illness in Bor after eating that food but there are numerous speculation including:

  1. That the bulls were sick. (I don’t agree with this narrative. It cannot be supported without medical confirmation, unfortunately.)
  1. That something might have fallen in the cooking utensils. That “something” is not definitive and can’t be known unless proven medically.

So the main suspect is salmonella bacteria (until state officials determine otherwise.)

Suggestion

State government must investigate this as soon as possible. Second, public food safety must be strictly followed from official guidelines and individual’s level in this summer season where temperatures are very high.

Finally, food at the public event has to be eaten before those endless speeches begin so that it doesn’t go bad.

Read more here from CDC

“Five Facts That May Surprise You (adapted from U.S.’s Centers for Disease Controls and Preventions – CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonella-food/index.html ).

You can get a Salmonella infection from a variety of foods. Salmonella can be found in many foods including beef, chicken, eggs, fruits, pork, sprouts, vegetables, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees. When you eat a food that is contaminated with Salmonella, it can make you sick. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal, which is why it is important to know how to prevent Salmonella infection.

Salmonella illness is more common in the summer. Warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for Salmonellato grow. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishables (foods likely to spoil or go bad quickly), prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours. Chill them within 1 hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter.

Salmonella illness can be serious and is more dangerous for certain people. Symptoms of infection usually appear 6–48 hours after eating a contaminated food, but can take much longer. These symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4–7 days and people recover without antibiotic treatment. Some people may have severe diarrhea and need to be hospitalized. Although anyone can get a Salmonella infection, older adults, children younger than 5, and people with immune systems weakened from medical conditions such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and cancer, are more likely to develop a serious illness.

Salmonella causes far more illnesses than you might suspect. For every one case of Salmonella illness confirmed in the laboratory, there are about 29 more cases of Salmonella illnesses that are not confirmed. Most people who get food poisoning usually do not go to the doctor or submit a sample to a laboratory, so we never learn what germ made them sick. Reporting foodborne illnesses to the local health department helps disease detectives identify outbreaks and stop them from happening again.

To avoid Salmonella, you should not eat raw or lightly cooked (runny whites or yolks) eggs. Salmonellacan contaminates perfectly normal-looking eggs. But eggs can make you sick, especially if they are raw or lightly cooked. Eggs are safe when you cook and handle them properly.”

2018@PTA

Philip Thon Aleu has Bachelor Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Ndejje University, Uganda.  As a journalist, Philip started his career as a reporter for Sudan Tribune website in Jonglei State (2007) and moved to work for UN’s Radio Miraya (2010), Voice of America (VOA) and BBC Focus on Africa.  He is currently working with a diplomatic mission in Juba as a political analyst but the views expressed in this article are not from that embassy. Contact: pthonaleu@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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