Food Hygiene

The role of food in the epidemiology of cholera

Albert MJ Neira M and Motarjemi Y (1997) The role of food in the epidemiology of cholera. World Health Stat Quarterly; 50(1-2):111-8.


Cholera is an acute dehydrating diarrhoeal disease, traditionally caused by vibrio cholerae O1, and also more recently by V. cholerae O139 (Bengal). Traditionally, water was recognized as the primary vehicle for transmission of cholera, but in the past 30 years, outbreaks of cholera associated with eating contaminated food have demonstrated that food also plays an important role, although in many instances water is the source of contamination of foods. Most commonly associated with cholera is seafood, both molluscan shellfish and crustaceans. Seafood may be contaminated in its natural environment or during preparation. Other food items associated with outbreaks are fruit and vegetables, meat, cooked grains, etc. Vegetables are usually contaminated by contact with sewage in soil and fruits when injected with contaminated water to increase weight and turgor. Food items initially free from V. cholerae organism may become contaminated when mixed with water, or other contaminated food, or through handling by infected persons who have not observed proper hygiene. Refrigeration, freezing, alkaline pH, high concentration of carbohydrate, humidity and absence of competing flora enhance the survival of V. cholerae in food. Survival of V. cholerae is shorter in food with acidic pH. Foodborne cholera can be averted by the hygienic preparation of food and its consumption. However, since the vehicles of transmission vary markedly from place to place, being affected by local customs and practices, selected control and preventive measures that are most important locally must be implemented. To this end, application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system to food preparation is essential in order to identify the practices which may present a risk. Restrictions on importation of foods which do not present a risk of being contaminated from areas where cholera is endemic is not warranted.


Written by geraldmoy

June 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm