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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 65  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 29-33

Shellfish poisoning outbreaks in Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu, India

1 EIS Officer, Epidemic Intelligence Service India Programme, National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, India
2 Director, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, India
3 Deputy Director, National Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, India
4 Resident Advisor, EIS CDC India, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Correspondence Address:
Anoop Velayudhan
EIS Officer, National Centres for Disease Control, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_1070_20

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Background: Two suspected shellfish poisoning events were reported in Cuddalore District in Tamil Nadu, India, between January and April 2015. Objectives: The study was conducted to confirm the outbreaks and to identify the source and risk factors. Methods: For both outbreaks, a case was defined as a person with nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. Sociodemographic details and symptoms were noted down. Data were also collected in a standard 3-day food frequency questionnaire, along with a collection of clam samples. A case–control study was initiated in the April outbreak. Stool samples were collected from cases, and clam vendors were interviewed. Results: In an outbreak that happened in January, all the twenty people reported to be consumed clams were diagnosed as cases (100% attack rate, 100% exposure rate). In the April outbreak, we identified 199 cases (95% attack rate). In both outbreaks, the clams were identified as genus Meretrix meretrix. The most common reported symptoms were dizziness and vomiting. The clams heated and consumed within 30–60 min. No heavy metals or chemicals were detected in the clams, but assays for testing shellfish toxins were unavailable. All 64 selected cases reported clam consumption (100% exposure rate) as did 11 controls (17% exposure rate). Illness was associated with a history of eating of clams (odds ratio = 314, 95% confidence interval = 39–512). Of the six stool samples tested, all were culture negative for Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio cholerae. The water at both sites was contaminated with garbage and sewage. Conclusion: Coordinated and timely efforts by a multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, marine biologists, and food safety officers led to the outbreaks' containment.

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