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2 conditions required for Bongkrekic acid to become lethal: Doctor

03/30/2024 03:34 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Two difficult-to-achieve conditions are required for Bongkrekic acid to be lethal, according to Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌), head of the Department of Occupational Medicine and Clinical Toxicology at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

While the eight individuals designated "severe cases" in the ongoing food poisoning outbreak have all tested positive for the toxin Bongkrekic acid, Yang urged the public not to panic as the acid is rare.

The bacterium that induced Bongkrekic acid, Burkholderia gladioli, is ubiquitous in soil, but two conditions have to be met for the bacterium to produce lethal Bongkrekic acid, Yang told CNA on Friday.

The first condition is an environment suitable for the bacterium to reproduce, but this is not easily achieved, as certain levels of temperature, pH scale, and salinity have to be reached at the same time, Yang said.

The bacterium proliferates in an environment of a temperature of 22 to 33 degrees Celsius, a neutral pH scale, and a salinity of lower than 2 percent, the doctor said.

The second condition is that enough time -- one to two days -- has to pass for the bacterium to reproduce for the toxin to become lethal, Yang said, adding that toxin from one to two hours of reproduction time would only cause mild symptoms such as abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Deputy Minister of Health Victor Wang (王必勝) told reporters on Friday evening that the eight individuals designated "severe cases" had all tested positive for the toxin Bongkrekic acid, confirming it as the source of the poisoning.

However, as the contamination was restricted to a certain branch of the restaurant and a certain time, there are no signs of proliferation, Wang said.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Food Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture explained on Saturday that while Bongkrekic acid was translated into a Chinese name containing the character for "rice," the acid has no direct relation to rice.

As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, 25 people had reported falling ill after eating at the Xinyi branch of the Malaysian restaurant chain Polam Kopitiam in Taipei. Of those, two have died, five remain in intensive care, and one is being treated in a general ward.

(By Chen Chieh-ling, Shen Pei-yao, Wu Hsin-yun, and Alison Hsiao)

Enditem/ASG

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