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Cheese behind 40 illnesses in Guatemala


Public health officials in Guatemala have issued a warning as 40 people fell sick after eating dairy products.

The Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance reported the food poisoning of 41 people after eating artisanal cheese in the town of Ciudad Vieja, in the department of Sacatepéquez.

The first cases were detected on Aug. 9. People with a history of consuming fresh cheese were treated for abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Authorities advised local people to avoid consuming dairy products without knowing the origin and to check the label of the product to ensure it is made with pasteurized milk. These preventative steps should be in place at least until the investigations are completed to determine the origin of the current outbreak to stop more people from getting sick.

They also recommended that the public reinforce hygiene practices such as handwashing, the correct preparation, handling and storage of food, and to seek treatment if they feel unwell.

Spanish Salmonella warning
Meanwhile, public health officials in Madrid, Spain have urged people to take care with foods that contain eggs so they don’t get a Salmonella infection.

They said that in summer, precautions must be taken to avoid food poisoning because of the high temperatures. Illness caused by Salmonella is often associated with the use of eggs in products such as tortillas, also known as a Spanish omelet, and mayonnaise.

According to surveillance data, since the beginning of 2022, 10 outbreaks have been registered in the region, with 53 people affected and five hospitalized. Most infections have occurred in catering establishments, with seven outbreaks and 39 cases.

Officials said the foods involved have almost all been made with eggs, either cooked in items like tortillas or consumed raw in mayonnaise or desserts.

They also said infections can be avoided with adequate hygiene measures such as handwashing and use of clean utensils. Advice includes not washing eggs and keeping them in the refrigerator.

Tortillas must be prepared and cooked thoroughly, eaten quickly or stored correctly. Mayonnaise should be made with pasteurized eggs but if raw eggs are used it needs to be prepared shortly before consumption, stored in the refrigerator and leftovers should not be kept.

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