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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 65  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 41-45

Foodborne illness outbreak linked to a rural community kitchen in a rural area of Patiala District, Punjab, India, 2018

1 India Epidemic Intelligence Services Officer, Division of Epidemiology, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, India
2 State Surveillance Officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Punjab, India
3 Joint Director, Division of Epidemiology, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, India
4 Assistant Director, Division of Epidemiology, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, India
5 Public Health Specialist, South Asia Field Epidemiology and Technology Network, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Akshay Kumar
213, Kadambari Apartment, Rohini Sector 09, Delhi - 110 085
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_1112_20

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Background: In December 2018, an acute gastroenteritis outbreak was reported from Faridpur-Gujjran village, Patiala district, Punjab, India. Objective: The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology and risk factors of the outbreak and recommend prevention measures. Methods: We conducted a descriptive study and a retrospective cohort study in the village. We defined a case as vomiting or ≥3 loose feces in 24 h plus abdominal pain and/or fever in a resident of the village during December 23–28, 2018. To find cases, we conducted a house-to-house survey; to identify risk factors, we conducted a retrospective cohort study. Fecal specimens were tested for enteric pathogens; water samples were tested for fecal contamination. We also interviewed food handlers. We compared attack rates by level of exposure. From the cohort study, we calculated risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals. Results: From the 261 residents of the village, we identified 116 cases (attack rate 44%) and no deaths. The median age of affected persons was 27.5 years (range 0.5–80 years). The illness was associated with eating in a community kitchen of a temple during December 23–24, 2018. Eating mixed vegetables was associated with illness. We found no pathogens in fecal specimens. All three water samples showed coliform contamination. Cooked food had been left at room temperature before serving. Conclusion: Improper storage practices might have led to microbial proliferation of the food served. Our findings will help guide the enforcement of food safety policies for community kitchens.

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