The Antiguan Ministry of Health is reportedly anticipating an outbreak of food-borne illness in the coming weeks after meat, feared to be contaminated with salmonella, E. coli, and shigella bacteria, was stolen near the Sir Vivian Richards cricket grounds and the government abattoir on Tuesday, October 31. Consumption of such contaminated meat can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis (stomach flu), according to a Ministry of Health statement on Friday, November 3.
Salmonellosis is contracted by consuming food or water contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Individuals infected with salmonella usually exhibit fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain roughly 12 to 72 hours after infection; most suffering from salmonellosis recover in four to seven days with rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Individuals are usually infected with pathogenic and diarrheagenic Eschegeria coli (E. coli) bacteria by consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms of E. coli infection typically include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, with onset three to four days following infection. Most suffering from E. coli infection recover in a few days with rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Shigellosis is contracted by ingesting shigella bacteria, typically found in stool of infected persons, through contaminated food or water, or by other means (e.g. changing babies' diapers). Symptoms of shigellosis include fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, with onset typically occurring one to two days after contraction. Individuals suffering from shigellosis usually recover in five to seven days with rest and fluids to prevent dehydration.
Individuals in Antigua experiencing the above symptoms are advised to seek medical attention. Meat should be thoroughly cooked and only purchased from major supermarkets, where all meat is inspected by the Antiguan Ministry of Health or Ministry of Agriculture. Practice good hygiene (wash hands thoroughly and frequently, etc.); hands and surfaces in contact with raw meat should be immediately washed with soap and water to prevent the spread of contaminants.