Date: Mon 30 Jan 2012
Source: Cayman News Service [edited]

Government officials have confirmed that at least 20 people may have been affected by food poisoning just hours after attending the 2012 Taste of Cayman event at Camana Bay on Saturday evening, 28 Jan 2012. Patients began arriving at the Cayman Islands hospital after attending the food festival complaining of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps from around midnight on Saturday night. Dr Kiran Kumar said the food poisoning symptoms came 4 to 6 hours after consumption of food at the event. Based on the symptoms, the public health boss said this pointed to a staphylococcal origin, an organism that is widely prevalent, which multiplies and produces toxin.

Officials have not yet been able to trace the source of the bug but Dr Kumar said tests could be done on leftover suspected food. "The suspected food or foods involved will be based on a common thread of usage by the patients," he said. "It is difficult to pinpoint due to many persons who ate specific food and did not get sick and people who have eaten at many vendors."

It is understood that most of the patients recovered quickly and were released from hospital without any further adverse consequences. Public health officials said several more people are understood to have taken ill but they did not seek treatment or attended private surgeries. One confirmed case was also reported at the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital.

The annual food extravaganza organized by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association [CITA] attracted more than 5000 people this year and was the biggest in the event's history. CITA Executive Director, Jane van der Bol, said over 43 food and beverage vendors attended and it was unfortunate to hear that people were reported with food poison symptoms.
[The Cayman Islands (<>) is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the 3 islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. They can be seen on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at <>.

Classical food poisoning due to _Staphylococcus aureus_ presents with a short incubation period of 4-6 hours as acute nausea and vomiting usually without fever or diarrhea. The illness generally lasts less than 24 hours.

The following information regarding this entity is extracted from the USA FDA's Bad Bug Book at

In the diagnosis of staphylococcal foodborne illness, proper interviews with the victims, and the gathering and analyzing of epidemiological data, are essential. Incriminated foods should be collected and examined for staphylococci. The presence of relatively large numbers of enterotoxigenic staphylococci is good circumstantial evidence that the food contains toxin. The most conclusive test is the linking of an illness with a specific food, or, in cases where multiple vehicles exist, the detection of the toxin in the food sample(s).

In cases where the food may have been treated to kill the staphylococci, as in pasteurization or heating, direct microscopic observation of the food may be an aid in the diagnosis. A number of serological methods for determining the enterotoxigenicity of _S. aureus_ isolated from foods, as well as methods for the separation and detection of toxins in foods, have been developed, and used successfully, to aid in the diagnosis of the illness. Phage typing may also be useful when viable staphylococci can be isolated from the incriminated food, from victims, and from suspected carriers, such as food handlers.

A toxin dose of less than 1.0 microgram in contaminated food will produce symptoms of staphylococcal intoxication. This toxin level is reached when _S. aureus_ populations exceed 100 000 per gram.

Foods that are frequently incriminated in staphylococcal food poisoning include meat and meat products; poultry and egg products; salads such as egg, tuna, chicken, potato, and macaroni; bakery products such as cream-filled pastries, cream pies, and chocolate eclairs; sandwich fillings; and milk and dairy products. Foods that require considerable handling during preparation, and that are kept at slightly elevated temperatures after preparation, are frequently involved in staphylococcal food poisoning. - ProMed Mod.LL]

[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:
Date: Thu 11 Nov 2010
Source: Miami Herald [edited]

Scientists have released genetically modified mosquitoes in an experiment to fight dengue fever in the Cayman Islands, British experts said Thursday [11 Nov 2010]. It is the 1st time genetically altered mosquitoes have been set loose in the wild, after years of laboratory experiments and hypothetical calculations. But while scientists believe the trial could lead to a breakthrough in stopping the disease, critics argue the mutant mosquitoes might wreak havoc on the environment.

"This test in the Cayman Islands could be a big step forward," said Andrew Read, a professor of biology and entomology at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the project. "Anything that could selectively remove insects transmitting really nasty diseases would be very helpful," he said. Unlike malaria, which is also spread by mosquitoes, dengue outbreaks are unpredictable, and bed nets are of limited use because dengue-spreading mosquitoes also bite during the day. [Napping children and ill individuals are likely to take to their beds, so the limited effectiveness would be restricted to those instances. - ProMed Mod.TY]

Researchers at Oxitec Limited, an Oxford-based company, created sterile male mosquitoes by manipulating the insects' DNA. Scientists in the Cayman Islands released 3 million mutant male mosquitoes to mate with wild female mosquitoes of the same species. That meant they wouldn't be able to produce any offspring, which would lower the population. Only female mosquitoes bite humans and spread diseases.

From May-October [2010], scientists released batches of genetically mutated male mosquitoes in cages 3 times a week in a 40-acre (16-hectare) area. By August 2010, mosquito numbers in that region dropped by 80 percent compared with a neighboring area where no sterile male mosquitoes were released. Luke Alphey, Oxitec's chief scientific officer, said with such a small area, it would have been very difficult to detect a drop in dengue cases. But their modeling estimates suggested an 80 percent reduction in mosquitoes should result in fewer dengue [virus] infections.

For years, scientists have been working to create mutant mosquitoes to fight diseases like malaria and dengue, which they say could stop outbreaks before they start. But others suspect it could be an environmental nightmare. "If we remove an insect like the mosquito from the ecosystem, we don't know what the impact will be," said Pete Riley, campaign director of GM Freeze, a British non-profit group that opposes genetic modification. He said mosquito larvae might be food for other species, which could starve if the larvae disappear. Or taking out adult mosquito predators might open up a slot for other insect species to slide in, potentially introducing new diseases. Humans have a patchy track record of interfering with natural ecosystems, Riley said. In the past, such interventions have led to the overpopulation of species including rabbits and deer. "Nature often does just fine controlling its problems until we come along and blunder into it."

Oxitec's Alphey said their genetically modified mosquitoes can't permanently change the ecosystem because they only last for a generation. But to stamp out dengue in endemic areas like Asia and South America, billions of the special-order mosquitoes would likely be needed to stifle their wild counterparts.

Yeya Toure, who leads the World Health Organization's team on Innovative Vector Control Interventions, called the Cayman Islands trial promising and said it's worth continuing the genetic modification experiments.

He said genetically altered mosquitoes aren't meant to replace existing tools like insecticides, but to compensate for their limitations, like when mosquitoes develop resistance. Read said creating mutated mosquitoes might actually be the least invasive way to control dengue. By keeping a lid on the mosquito population via genetic modification, Read said entire ecosystems would be spared the toxic effects of indiscriminately spraying pesticides. He said the bigger problem would be selling the idea of genetically altered mosquitoes to the public. In the Cayman Islands, officials said they worked closely with the local community and encountered surprisingly little resistance. "We still have people who don't believe in vaccines," Read said. "How are we going to convince them it's OK to let scientists release genetically altered mosquitoes into the wild?"  [Byline: Maria Cheng]
[_Aedes aegypti_ themselves are an invasive species in the Americas and, except for wild populations in Africa, are dependent on human activities to provide breeding sites and maintain populations large enough to transmit dengue and yellow fever viruses. As noted above, reduction of _Ae. aegypti_ populations through the release of genetically altered individuals appears to be far less disruptive to local ecosystems than massive insecticide spraying. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the Cayman Island field trial is. It would be of interest to know the cost and logistical feasibility of maintaining _Ae. aegypti_ population reduction continuously in the areas in the Americas and Southeast Asia where dengue is a serious, ongoing public health problem.

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map showing the location of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean can be accessed at <,-81.2,6>. - ProMed Mod.TY]
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 19:10:50 +0100 (MET)

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Jan 19, 2010 (AFP) - A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, US geologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.   Frantic locals poured out of buildings into the streets after homes and office buildings took a solid jolt.   "It really shook me right through to the soul of my body," one government employee told AFP. Tremors were felt across most of the island.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake, with a depth of some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), struck the Caribbean island at 1423 GMT.   McClearly Frederick with Hazard Management Cayman Islands said, however, it was not considered a major temblor.   "No injuries have been reported and there have been no reports of damage to buildings. Business and schools have remained open and residents have resumed their normal daily routines," the department of tourism said in a statement.

The Cayman's last quake, which registered 6.8 magnitude, occurred in December 2004.   The USGS said the quake, one of several to hit South America and the Caribbean in recent days, struck some 52 kilometers (32 miles) east-southeast of Bodden Town on Grand Cayman.   It struck one week after a massive 7.0-magnitude quake hit Haiti, leveling the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns and villages, killing as many as 200,000 people according to some preliminary estimates.
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 2009 14:07:27 +0100 (MET)

MIAMI, Nov 7, 2009 (AFP) - The government of the Cayman Islands issued a weather warning Saturday as tropical storm Ida strengthened and neared the archipelago.    At 1200 GMT, Ida was located 220 miles (360 kilometers) off Grand Cayman Island and moving north at eight miles (13 kilometers) an hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.    Ida's winds strengthened to 45 miles (75 kilometers) an hour, which qualified it for tropical storm status, according to the center.    On Friday, Ida battered Nicaragua's Caribbean coast despite being downgraded to a tropical depression.

Heavy rains from Ida swelled Nicaraguan rivers, destroying an estimated 530 houses and hitting remote communities in one of Central America's poorest nations.   "They are estimating that 40,000 people will be directly or indirectly affected by the hurricane in preliminary damage projections," Jose Luis Perez, director of the Nicaraguan national disaster response corps, told AFP late Thursday.   The NHC warned rains could produce flash floods and mudslides in Central America and the Caribbean.   One of the first areas affected were the Corn Islands, a tropical paradise popular with backpackers. Around 300 tourists were evacuated from the islands by civil defense forces on Wednesday.
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 10:52:57 +0200 (METDST)

GENEVA, June 8, 2009 (AFP) - Swine flu has now spread to 73 countries with 25,288 people known to have been infected since the disease was first uncovered in April, data from the World Health Organisation showed Monday.   The number of deaths rose to 139 after 14 more deaths were reported, according to the latest WHO tally of confirmed influenza A(H1N1) cases.

Most of the new cases were reported by the United States, with 2,163 new infections, bringing its total caseload to 13,217, including 27 deaths.   Australia also posted a significant rise of 175 cases, bringing its total to 1,051.   Chile likewise saw its caseload grow by 42 to 411 in total.   Flu experts are watching the situation in Australia and Chile carefully as they are part of the southern hemisphere which is entering the flu-prone winter season.

Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands, Dominica and the United Arab Emirates reported a case each to the WHO for the first time.   Trinidad and Tobago also joined the list of countries with infections, after reporting two new cases.   Some affected countries no longer keep track of all cases according to the WHO, while others do not report daily.   The WHO is now only updating its tally three times a week, rather than daily.
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