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150 suffer food poisoning in Karak’s Shihabieh — official

By Dana Al Emam - Aug 11,2014 - Last updated at Aug 11,2014

AMMAN — The Ministry of Health has dealt with over 150 cases of food poisoning in a recent incident in the Shihabieh area in Karak, 140km south of the capital, a Health Ministry official said on Monday.

Bashir Qasir, head of the ministry’s communicable diseases department, said the results of an analysis of stool samples taken from the patients proved the presence of shigella bacteria.

According to the World Health Organisation website, shigella is a type of bacteria that causes diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps that can be treated with antibiotics. 

It is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact. 

Samples taken from a popular restaurant in the area that serves hummus, and stool samples from restaurant workers also point to the presence of shigella bacteria.

“The ministry’s health team took precautions by closing the suspected restaurant on Saturday morning until the results of the samples taken from there are fully tested,” Qasir told The Jordan Times over the phone, noting that tests of the food samples are not fully conclusive.

The official said the poisoning is not related to water pollution.

“The ministry’s team tested Shihabieh’s water sources in addition to the water tanks of those who suffered poisoning and found the water drinkable,” Qasir said.

He noted that the bacteria’s incubation period varies from one person to another and could extend to 24 hours; therefore, the number of poisoning cases increased gradually. 

The patients, who complained of fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, might have kept the food in their fridges for the following day, he added. 

Noting that the cases were simple, Qasir said the patients received treatment at healthcare centres, while a few were admitted to a Karak hospital and discharged afterwards.     

He urged the public and restaurants workers to refrigerate food to ensure that it is not spoiled in the summer heat.

“We also urge restaurant workers who prepare food to wash their hands before and after the process and to pay attention to their personal hygiene,” Qasir said.

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