Invasive illness and sickness linked to consumption of uncooked freshwater fish in Southeast Asia

22/06/2021 Bangkok, Thailand

The consumption of uncooked freshwater fish, a staple weight-reduction plan for thousands and thousands of individuals in lots of elements of Southeast Asia, is coming below nearer scrutiny after the detection of a foodborne hazard in a number of international locations of the area, prompting a warning by meals security consultants on the Meals and Agriculture Group (FAO) of the United Nations and others.

An invasive illness, referred to as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Streptococcus agalactiae linked to the consumption of uncooked freshwater fish, has led FAO’s Regional Workplace for Asia and the Pacific to publish a danger profile to lift consciousness of the menace.

“Many individuals aren’t conscious of the dangers related to consuming uncooked freshwater fish, and it’s a quite common observe in Southeast Asia,” mentioned Masami Takeuchi, FAO Meals Security Officer. “However the sicknesses this observe could cause will be critical, although not at all times apparent, nor instant, and in some circumstances that may make it tough to diagnose and deal with in time.”

Understanding the danger – studying extra about it

The issues attributable to consuming uncooked tainted freshwater fish on this area have been first found in 2015, when no less than 146 folks fell unwell in Singapore. Some skilled extreme penalties, together with amputation of limbs attributable to extreme blood poisoning. The case was later linked to the Group B Streptococcus (GBS), and the particular pressure chargeable for the outbreak was sequence sort 283 (ST283).

“Many microbiologists have been stunned as invasive GBS illness had not been recognized to be foodborne beforehand,” mentioned Timothy Barkham, who contributed to FAO’s work, and is an Affiliate Professor on the Division of Laboratory Drugs, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore. “One other shocking level was that this foodborne GBS ST283 affected wholesome adults. GBS is generally very unusual in wholesome adults.”

Exterior of Singapore, circumstances of invasive GBS ST283 illness have additionally been documented in China, Hongkong SAR, Lao Folks’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam. Nonetheless, as little is thought, and the listing of uncertainties and recognized information gaps is intensive, a full risk-assessment isn’t but potential. With out enough and validated data-sets, a a lot wider geographic scope of analysis is required, the consultants say, to find out if the illness is just indigenous to Southeast Asia or if it extends past. It’s also potential that GBS ST283 circumstances have been extraordinarily under-reported.

What international locations can do

It might be finest for competent meals security authorities to have full risk-assessment outcomes at hand to contemplate risk-management choices, however with all of the uncertainties and the dearth of knowledge, solely restricted sensible suggestions will be provided for now.

Normally, it’s a good suggestion to advertise good aquaculture practices (GAPs). Additionally planning of a common and focused meals security marketing campaign, geared toward shoppers, native populations or villagers to tell them of the potential dangers of consumption of uncooked freshwater fish might work as an efficient preventative measure, particularly in areas the place consumption of uncooked freshwater fish is thought to be widespread.

“Whereas you will need to proceed strengthening the assorted features of nationwide meals management programs, it will be significant for the competent authorities to pay attention to the problem first,” Takeuchi, mentioned. “As the problem is comparatively new, having an summary of what’s at present recognized on this foodborne illness is feasible by studying the FAO danger profile, discussing amongst all stakeholders in meals security, public well being and fisheries/aquaculture to alternate data and share views – these are good first steps,” she mentioned.

Particularly, under, are consideration factors consultants have urged to speak to stakeholders and villagers:

  • visible inspection: discarding visibly irregular/diseased fish is predicted to scale back danger, however they need to not depend on visible inspections alone, as healthy-looking fish are not any assure of security;
  • heat-treatment: correct heating /cooking is the one recognized efficient danger mitigation measure; and
  • non heat-treatments: there isn’t a proof that conventional fish preparation strategies with out warmth remedy are efficient. Freezing isn’t an efficient management measure.

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