Foodborne disease outbreaks in Barbados (1998-2009): a 12-year review
Introduction: Microbes such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and S. aureus have been implicated in Foodborne disease outbreaks (FBDOs) worldwide, yet information on their occurrence in Barbados is scanty. The purpose of this study was to determine the aetiological agents, food vehicles, locations and peak seasons of FBDOs in Barbados; assess the quality of epidemiological investigations; and identify deficiencies in food production practices and laboratory detection.
Methodology: A search of FBDOs occurring in Barbados between 1998-2009 was conducted among published and unpublished literature sources and reports. The search terms included the keywords “foodborne disease,” “outbreaks” and “Barbados”.
Results: During the period 1998 to 2009, there were 24 foodborne outbreaks, 215 cases of illness, one hospitalisation and no deaths. Overall, 37.5% of outbreaks were associated with hotels/resorts. Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 8 was most commonly implicated with eggs and poultry being the primary vehicles. Three outbreak reports were available for assessment and revealed that there were deficiencies in the outbreak investigations. These reports also recorded high levels of food contamination with indicator organisms, suggesting that improvements in food hygiene and production practices were required.
Conclusions: The number of FBDOs is low in comparison to developed countries. However, the data was likely affected by under-reporting and inadequacies in the outbreak investigations and laboratory detection. Improvements in these areas would lead to not only better detection and characterisation of FBDOs in Barbados but improved food safety control measures.
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