The Directorate of Health says it has had to deal with a virtual explosion of diarrhoea cases caused by campylobacter, a bacteria spread mostly by the poor handling of meat.
In a statement posted on the Directorate’s website, about 100 cases of campylobacter-caused diarrhoea have been reported over the past year. The afflicted come from many different backgrounds, making it difficult to find the cause of the outbreak.
The most common form of campylobacter, Campylobacter jejuni, is often connected to poultry, as the bacteria lives in the digestive tracts of many different bird species, and poorly handled raw chicken is a primary cause of the pathogen’s spread.
The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) said that they could not definitively draw a connection between Icelandic chickens and the outbreak, nor could they rule it out. They pointed out that according to their findings, the incidence of campylobacter in chickens has not significantly spiked upwards.
The Directorate of Health cautions the public to cook all meat thoroughly and to keep surfaces and hands clean during and after cooking, as well as to use clean water.
While the poisoning caused by campylobacter is painful and debilitating, it is the most common form of gastroenteritis in the world, and is almost never fatal. High fever and diarrhoea can last anywhere from 24 hours to a week before running its course, although antibiotics can help bring an end to the infection.