Mass Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Kimchi in South Korea

Updated July 08, 2024 Dan Science

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Kimchi. Image: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

A recent outbreak of norovirus in South Korea has been linked to contaminated kimchi, a popular fermented cabbage dish. According to officials in Namwon City, in the south-west of the country, there have been a total of 996 confirmed cases of food poisoning, with that number potentially climbing to 1,024 as reported by local media.

Contaminated Kimchi Identified as the Source

The contaminated kimchi was distributed through school meals in Namwon City, affecting students and staff from 24 schools. Symptoms reported by those affected include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. Norovirus, a highly contagious virus, is the suspected culprit behind the outbreak, easily transmitted through contaminated surfaces and infected individuals.

According to Namwon City officials, the epidemiological investigation began promptly after the first case was reported, signaling a swift response. The number of cases surged rapidly from 153 to 745 in a short span of time, prompting health officials to take preemptive measures to contain the spread of the illness.

In a social media post, the Mayor of Namwon City, Choi Kyung-sik, reassured the public of their commitment to citizen safety, stating, "We will ensure the safety of our citizens." The city's disaster and safety department took immediate action by suspending the production and sale of products from the company responsible for the contaminated kimchi, which is also initiating a voluntary recall of distributed products.

Vigilant Response and Ongoing Investigation

The outbreak underscores the importance of a proactive and thorough response to food-related illnesses to prevent further escalation. Health officials are working diligently to identify the source of contamination and mitigate the impact on the affected population.

City officials confirmed the presence of norovirus in patients, environmental samples, and the tainted kimchi. The company responsible for producing the contaminated kimchi has not been officially named, but measures are being taken to address the situation and prevent any additional cases of illness.

As the investigation continues and efforts to contain the outbreak intensify, the focus remains on safeguarding public health and ensuring that all necessary precautions are implemented to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Published: July 08, 2024
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