Outbreak report Open Access
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On 3 September 2002, the Spanish national centre of epidemiology (Centro Nacional de Epidemiología - CNE) was alerted to a high number of gastroenteritis cases in Spanish tourists who had travelled to a hotel in Punta Cana on different days during august 2002. Entamoeba hystolitica cysts have been visualised by microscopy in the stools of several patients that sought medical attention in the Dominican Republic. The CNE informed the health authorities in the Dominican Republic and conducted in conjunction an epidemiological investigation. A descriptive study of the 76 initial cases estimated a mean illness duration of 5.1+2.9 days and a exposure period of 3.6+2.2 days. Following a retrospective cohort study, the attack rate was found to be 32.4%. Consequently, 216 (95% CI=114.75-317.25) spanish tourists had probably developed the illness. Stool samples were collected in Spain from untreated patients who still felt unwell. None of the samples were positive for E.hystolitica. On 10 September, a hygiene inspection was undertaken at the hotel. Samples of the ice and meals served at the buffet that day, yielded coliform bacteria. Consumption of water from the resort water system was the only risk factor associated with the symptoms (RR= 3.55; 95% CI =1.13-10.99). To avoid similar outbreaks occurring again at the hotel, it is essential to regularly monitor the water quality and to improve food handling hygiene standards. Basic food hygiene training for food handlers should be mandatory. An international guideline for the management foodborne and waterborne outbreaks among tourists in holiday resorts should be drawn up, involving all competent authorities of both destination and tourist origin countries.


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