Woman contracts Guillain Barre syndrome after drinking tap water in Havelock North, NZ
Posted by te2ataria on September 15, 2016
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Victim one of 5,200 people infected by campylobacter in Havelock North gastro outbreak
Single mum April Singh, 41, has been diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, a serious neurological disorder, after contracting campylobacteriosis from drinking infected tap water during Havelock North’s gastro outbreak in August.
Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) can develop after a campylobacter infection.
“GBS is an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The immune cells attack the myelin sheath – the fatty substance covering nerve fibres. The myelin sheath insulates and protects the nerve fibres and assists with the passage of impulses throughout the nervous system. If the myelin sheath is damaged, messages from the brain may be slowed or blocked completely.”
The Indian mother of eight, who works as a cleaner, said she “couldn’t vacuum or stand for long periods of time. I’m a pretty strong person and this isn’t me.”
“I’ve gone from being a real strong person to being a weakling,” she said.
Singh, who was in considerable pain, was misdiagnosed at the Hastings medical centre on September 3. “She was told there that she may have fibromyalgia and she went home. Five days later, when things hadn’t improved, she went to her GP, who sent her to hospital,” said a report.
At least 111 people [2.32 per 100,000 people] with GBS are hospitalized in New Zealand each year and a third of of them are related to campylobacter.
NZ’s long-running Campylobacter epidemic from poultry: Now with antibiotic resistance
NZ is known as the “Campylobacter capital of the world” in food safety circles for having the highest rates reported by any country. Now that our rates have halved (due to past regulations ) we may, thankfully, have slipped from first place, but our rate (150 per 100,000 in 2014 ) is still much higher than other countries we typically compare ourselves with. It is more than 10 times that of the US (13 per 100,000 in 2014 ) and more than 50% higher than Australia (94 per 100,000 in 2013 ). Largely eliminating poultry as a source could virtually halve our incidence and show that we can manage this food safety problem effectively.
NZ’s reputation as a trusted exporter of safe food took a battering following the botulism and milk powder scare in August 2013 (the “whey protein concentrate incident”). We need to demonstrate our low tolerance of food contaminated with real microbial hazards, as is clearly the situation with Campylobacter in fresh chicken.