Monday, April 18, 2011

Don't Eat the Seaweed in Thailand

At least seven people have died under mysterious circumstances at resort in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. Experts believe the victims may have been poisoned by “toxic seaweed”.
A British couple, a 23-year-old New Zealander, and a Thai tour guide all died within 16 days in adjoining rooms at the three-star Downtown Inn in February. All four are believed to have died in remarkably similar circumstances, while three other cases have been speculatively linked to the phenomenon after displaying similar symptoms. Thai health authorities have blamed "toxic seaweed" for one of the deaths, but amid calls for a fresh investigation, one expert said that food poisoning was unlikely to be the cause. Thai police have ruled out foul play and said there was no evidence that the deaths were linked. Health authorities said at least two were probably caused by food poisoning. The Governor of Chiang Mai, Panadda Disakul, said they were nothing more than a coincidence, according to news reports. But David Mabey, professor of communicable diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that if the cases were a coincidence they would be a "remarkable" one. He described the deaths as "absolutely extraordinary" and said that food poisoning would "certainly not" be one of the first possible causes to spring to mind.
Despite the deaths, the hotel manager at the popular tourist destination insists that the food is safe. Unlikely. Since the beginning of the year, more than 19,000 people were treated for food poisoning in Thailand.
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