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Food poisoning outbreak in Al-Hafoff City, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, December 2001.


On 17/12/2001 an outbreak of food poisoning occurred among people who had eaten from one restaurant in Al-Hafoff city, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. The present study was conducted to identify the source of this outbreak, to suggest appropriate preventive and control measures, and avoid recurrence of similar outbreaks in the future.


The study was conducted using a case-control approach in Al-Hafoff town. Cases were selected according to the case definition, which was any person who had eaten from the restaurant and developed diarrhea with or without fever vomiting and colic between 1:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m on Monday 17/12/2001. Controls were selected according to control definition and matched with cases according to sex. A pre-structured questionnaire was completed by personal interview with cases and controls. Medical records, medical files and surveillance reports of Al-Hafoff General Health Directorate were reviewed.


Only 21 (48.8%) cases were reported to Al-Hafoff Health Directorate. Eighty six people were interviewed; 43 cases and 43 controls. Among cases the mean age was 18.5 years (SD ±13.4), and 13 (30.2%) of them were males. Salmonella enteritidis group (D) were isolated from 21 (48.8%) admitted cases. The odds ratio of getting food poisoning among persons who had eaten broasted chicken was nine times higher than those who had not. This odds ratio was statistically significant (OR=9.4, CI=1.17 - 435.9, P-Value=0.0142)


This was a common source (Point source) outbreak of Salmonellosis. The main source of this outbreak was the broasted chicken meal. Time-temperature abuse of chicken meat, which was kept in ambient temperature for a long time during food preparation, was the principal factor in producing this outbreak.