Cases of conch poisoning in The Bahamas have risen to 40, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands confirmed yesterday.
As of last week Thursday, there were 27 confirmed cases, and approximately 22 cases pending laboratory testing.
According to Sands, as of yesterday there were another 10 pending cases at Princess Margaret Hospital, and two more cases pending, stemming from Doctors Hospital.
The Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the Department of Environmental Health Services, intend to deploy inspectors across New Providence, though their specific remit and the number of inspectors to hit the ground is still being determined, Sands said.
“This is a bit of a challenge because the remit for food and safety is defused across multiple ministries,” he said.
“Environmental health does inspections and agriculture is responsible for food and safety. [This is a] multi-agency, multi-ministry collaboration that we have to get right and it is a result of the evolution of the portfolio adds over the years.”
The outbreak was revealed on July 4 when officials said four cases stemmed from Potter’s Cay.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be easily prevented by vendors washing their conch supplies in fresh water. According to Sands, this measure is essential, but health officials have met some challenges.
Warmer temperatures are also expected to intensify the presence of vibrio in the ocean.
According to health officials, cooking the conch removes the chance of it being contaminated.
Since the outbreak, health officials have visited vendors across New Providence and posted health advisories and tips aimed at vendors and consumers washing and storing conch properly.
There were 223 cases of conch poisoning in New Providence in 2003.
In 1991 and 1999, there were also outbreaks of conch poisoning with a combined 1,100 cases, Sands reported previously.