UN and Iraqi health officials are investigating a suspected foodborne illness outbreak at the Hassan Sham U2 camp, near Erbil. The outbreak has sickened some 825 mainly internally displaced people from west Mosul as of June 12.

Image/ErikaWittlieb via pixabay
Image/ErikaWittlieb via pixabay

A third of all the cases were children and two thirds were female and the majority of the cases predominately presented with vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, consistent with foodborne illness.

638 were referred to various health facilities; 386 cases have been admitted to hospitals in Erbil. All patients referred to health facilities have rapidly improved on supportive medical treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are currently no deaths have been documented; however, a ProMED mail post notes the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan has confirmed the deaths of a child and an adult woman due to this outbreak and many admitted cases for vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. A dinner meal (Iftar) was suspected to be the vehicle, which was distributed by a local restaurant. Epidemiological investigation is ongoing, testing food samples, patients samples, (in addition to the) legal investigation. Staphylococcus aureus food poisoning is suspected.

An investigation team was dispatched to the field.

WHO says the following measures have been taken:

  • 94 ambulances dispatched to the camp to support the tranfer of patients to various hospitals where they could receive prompt emergency care and supportive treatment.
  • IV fluids, oral rehydration salts and cannulas have been dispatched to the health facilities to urgently respond to the needs.
  • food and stool samples have been sent to Central Public Health Laboratory in Erbil.
  • a WHO medical team visited the camp and Central Emergency hospital in Erbil to conducted additional investigations.
  • health partners: International Medical Corps, ADRA, International Organization for Migration, Médecins Sans Frontières and Barazani Charity Foundation are effectively identifying and managing cases.