Seventy people in Beijing have been diagnosed as suffering from Guangzhou
Angiostrongylus meningitis, the Beijing Bureau of Health said at a press
A patient suffering from meningtis
after eating snails recevies treatment at a hospital in Beijing, August
20, 2006. [Beijing Star Daily]
bureau said the meningitis outbreak had caused no deaths so far and three
patients had left hospital after treatment.
But the bureau warned people not to eat raw or half-cooked snails and gave a
phone number, 65066969, for the public to report anyone improperly cooked
Guo Zixia, an official with the Beijing municipal office of health
inspection, said it would impose administrative punishment on Shuguo Yanyi
Restaurant for improperly cooking the Amazonian snails, which caused the
The office on Sunday issued an urgent notice prohibiting the sale of raw or
half-cooked freshwater snails in the city's restaurants.
The office also required restaurants to boil snails thoroughly before serving
them to customers.
It then inspected about 2,000 restaurants, although it did not find any
selling raw or half-cooked snails.
Yin Quanxi, an official with the office, was quoted by the Beijing Daily
Messenger as saying thoroughly boiled snails were safe to eat.
Yin said the office would improve the inspection of aquatic products, such as
snails, fish, shrimps and crabs, by establishing a system of traceable purchases
and sales so that food sources could be quickly identified.
The Beijing Friendship Hospital, specializing in treating the disease,
yesterday launched a training course on the treatment of Guangzhou
The course will train about 200 doctors working in the city's third-class and
The friendship hospital found the first case of meningitis on June 24 when a
34-year-old man suffered from violent headache and nausea after eating a dish of
cold snail meat at the Shuguo Yanyi Restaurant.
The snail meat was from the Amazonian snail fushouluo in Chinese which hosts
the Angiostrongylus cantonesis, a parasite that harms people's nervous system.
Yin Chenghong, an expert from the hospital, said people do not have to panic
as the disease is curable and will not result in major problems if treated
timely and properly.
Yin said the disease has an average latency period of 10 days, during which
time people can suffer from headache, fever, vomiting and a stiff neck.
Meanwhile, there have been no reports of illness related to Amazonian snails
so far in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, the local
disease control and prevention office said yesterday.
"The city saw disease cases related to the snail in the 1980s, but has not
heard of any cases for more than a decade," said Mao Xinwu, director of the food
and health department of Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the city's health authorities have decided to launch a one-week
inspection campaign of freshwater seafood to raise awareness about snail
Guangzhou was one of the first Chinese cities to introduce Amazonian snails
in the 1980s, as a delicacy.
"Sales of Amazonian snails have been affected in recent days," said Guo
Qinghong, a vendor at the Guangzhou Huangsha Seafood Market. "It is because
people are now afraid of diseases."
"Once we prove eating salad snails could harm health, we will issue an
emergency notice to the public not to eat them," said Huang Hui, an official
with the Guangzhou Health Bureau.
According to Huang, trade of Amazonian snails has not been suspended in the
(China Daily 08/22/2006 page3)