Conch poisoning cases keep on rising

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.


Tribune Chief Reporter


CONFIRMED cases of conch poisoning continue to climb, according to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, who said the tally stood at 17 yesterday.

Dr Sands said the number was likely to increase unless vendors moved away from longstanding cultural practices and embraced the overwhelming evidence linking the poisonings to the use of salt water to clean conch meat.

There are 17 confirmed cases, and three pending cases from Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital.

Dr Sands said the government was not pursuing punitive action for seafood vendors, but it may be inevitable if the problem escalates.

“Unless the vendors adhere rigidly to washing conch in fresh water, the number is going to go up and up and up,” he said.

“The bacteria is present in the water and as the temperature increases - you know we’ve had a lot of days in the 90s - it is exploding in terms of the amount of vibrio in the water. This heat is the perfect incubator for the organism.

“Unfortunately, for a number of people who work with conch, this doesn’t enter into their world - they don’t think about it. This vibrio is not an ordinary part of their conceptualisation of what needs to be done. Some actively resist the idea of washing conch in fresh water, that is like an abomination.”

Conch poisoning is caused by vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria which requires salt water to live.

When ingested, vibrio bacteria can cause watery diarrhoea, which is usually accompanied by abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever, nausea, and chills.

Dr Sands said: “It has to fall on the consumer. If you eat raw conch, you either insist you watch them rinse it in fresh water or don’t eat it. If you don’t do that you run the risk of vibrio conch poisoning. Vibrio exists throughout the tropics, this is not unique to the Bahamas but we eat a lot of conch.

“So until we acknowledge the need to wash conch in fresh running water, this problem is going to continue.”


joeblow 4 years, 10 months ago

Insist on the installation of fresh tap water with drainage into the sea at all booths that sell fresh conch. Problem solved!


Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 10 months ago

Sands is mouthing off about the problem when all the while he is the Minister of Health with full authority to shut down all conch and other food vendors who do not have ready access to a supply of fresh running water. Sands has all of the powers necessary to solve the conch poisoning problem that poses a serious health hazard to Bahamians and tourists alike, yet he would rather talk about the problem rather than solve it. Someone needs to remind Sands that talk is cheap, especially when coming from a foolish politician's mouth.


CaptainCoon 4 years, 10 months ago

If the cases are rising this raises the question, how are these establishments passing health inspections?


DDK 4 years, 10 months ago

This Government is becoming more and more of a joke every passing day!


Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes indeed, kb will soon have the jokiest of all songs to write and sing when it comes to this Minnis-led FNM administration.


jus2cents 4 years, 10 months ago

Don't eat conch (or ANY other shellfish) in summer.

They really should ban selling conch salad in summer, the water gets too hot and bacteria thrives.

Conch salad in-particular is susceptible to bacterial growth because of the added Raw salad ingredients.

Anyone with a weak immune system or anyone who values their kidneys (yes that is all of us!) should stay away from all conch in hot summer months. (Raw and cooked)


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