Researchers Warn of Bacteria Found in Desserts in Mexico

Mar 25, 2009

A study to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports that desserts from restaurants in Mexico are likely to give patients travelers’ diarrhea, and are yet another food to avoid when visiting developing countries where sanitation may not be optimal.

Diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travelers to destinations in developing and subtropical regions. Bacterial causes are most common, especially distinctive strains of E. coli called enterotoxigenic and enteroaggregative (not to be confused with the severe 0157:H7 Shiga producing E. coli (e.g. O157:H7) found in the U.S.).

In this study, investigators obtained a variety of from 35 randomly selected restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico and from 33 randomly selected restaurants in Houston, Texas. More than 95 percent of the dessert samples from Guadalajara were positive for coliform bacteria (reflecting fecal contamination), with an average coliform count of 58,000 bacteria per gram of dessert. About 20 percent of the Houston samples were positive for coliform bacteria but with a much lower bacterial count: 2000 bacteria per gram of dessert. E. coli was found in 12 percent of the Mexican samples but in none of the Houston samples. Enterotoxigenic E. coli was the most common strain of E. coli found, and enteroaggregative E. coli was found as well. was the most common culprit.

When seeking travel advice, travelers are typically warned to avoid all foods that are not served hot, and to personally peel and prepare fruits and vegetables to avoid contracting food-borne illnesses such as traveler’s diarrhea. Other generally safe items include dry bread, syrups, jellies and jam. This study points out that desserts, especially ice cream, are another specific food item to avoid. The authors generalize their findings to ice cream desserts served in other developing countries, not just Mexico.

However, interpretations of the authors’ findings need to be tempered somewhat, since the authors did not specifically test ice cream or other desserts prepared by large manufacturers such as D’Onofrio made by Nestle which are common and popular, particularly in Latin America.

Other contributors to the paper were first author Karen J. Vigil from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Zhi-Dong Jiang from the UT School of Public Health at Houston, and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

The is the official journal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians, and program professionals whose mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor.

Provided by American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Explore further: Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Novel compound may treat acute diarrhea

Jun 16, 2008

In a development that may lessen the epidemic of diarrhea-related deaths among children in developing countries, scientists in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science ...

Recommended for you

S.Korea detects second foot-and-mouth case

6 minutes ago

South Korea on Monday reported its second case of foot-and-mouth disease in less than a week, triggering fearful memories of a devastating 2011 outbreak that forced the culling of millions of livestock.

Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected

36 minutes ago

(AP)—One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying ...

Hepatitis C virus genotype 1 is most prevalent worldwide

1 hour ago

In one of the largest prevalence studies to date, researchers from the U.K. provide national, regional, and global genotype prevalence estimates for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings published in Hepatology, a journa ...

1 in 3000 blood donors in England infected with hepatitis E

1 hour ago

The first systematic analysis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission by blood components indicates that about 1 in 3000 donors in England have HEV in their plasma. The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that around ...

Biologic treatments for RA carry similar infection risk

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—The risk of hospitalized bacterial infections in older rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is similar for rituximab or abatacept compared to etanercept, although it is higher for infliximab, ...

New oral drug regimens cure hardest-to-treat hepatitis C

1 hour ago

Two new pill-only antiviral drug regimens could provide shorter, more effective treatment options with fewer side effects for the majority of patients infected with hepatitis C, even those most difficult to treat, according ...

User comments : 0