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Gastroenteritis investigation progressing

29 June 2006

Gastroenteritis investigation progressing

The investigation by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) into the cause of the Eden Park gastroenteritis outbreak is progressing.

The cause of illness among patrons at the match has been confirmed following testing by the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR) as norovirus. Norovirus is highly infectious gut virus that can be spread directly from person to person through vomiting or touch contact, or through eating contaminated food. Symptoms are predominantly vomiting and diarrhoea which usually last approximately 48 hours.

Interviews have been conducted on 407 patrons. Of those, 81 (20%) have reported illness. Of the four affected hospitality areas investigated the rate of illness was highest for the Hall of Legends where 36% of the 178 interviewed patrons were ill.

Illness was strongly associated with the consumption of imported raw Pacific oysters. Of the four hospitality areas investigated, those who dined in the Hall of Legends hospitality area and developed illness after 17 June, 2006 were 27 times more likely to have consumed raw oysters. There was also an increased risk of illness associated with salmon consumption but oysters were served with the salmon. ESR has confirmed the presence of norovirus in raw imported Korean oysters of the same production batches as those consumed at the Eden Park. These oysters have been held by the importers. New Zealand-grown oysters from two suppliers consumed at the event tested negative for norovirus.

All relevant parties are continuing to assist ARPHS' with the investigation.

For those affected by the virus and those who are well but in close contact with cases, the most important way of preventing spread of the disease is thorough hand hygiene (washing hands for 20 seconds using soap and running water and drying for 20 seconds) after going to the toilet and before preparing or eating food.

ENDS

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