(Fox News) New Zealand has declared a state of emergency in one of the Pacific nations hit hardest by an outbreak of deadly gastroenteritis.
New Zealand police began enforcing a blockades on Wednesday as deadly Vibrio vulnificus continued its gruesome impact on the Solomon Islands.
According to the New Zealand Red Cross, Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially deadly bacterium that includes enterococci, Giardia enterocolitica and listeria, has been identified in deadly stomach inflammation in two villages on the island of Guadalcanal.
At least three people have died from Vibrio vulnificus in the island nation of over 380,000 people, with many more sickened, according to a press release from the Cook Islands.
Speaking to New Zealand news station TVNZ, National Assistant Police Commissioner Dave Cliff called the outbreak a “clear and present danger to life,” adding that they do not have the people or resources to fully control the spread of the disease.
Cliff added, “We are almost to the point now where the disease can be eradicated by the fact that you can go into any market and get rid of all the food you are dealing with that you have to deal with that contains Vibrio vulnificus.”
Cliff warned that anyone willing to eat raw vegetables, like lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, sweet peppers and tomatoes, were encouraged to avoid them and avoid drinking from unsafe wells.
Due to the outbreak, there was been a restriction of fresh produce coming into the neighboring nation of Papua New Guinea, according to a press release.
Due to Vibrio vulnificus, many other countries around the world have a mandatory quarantine for all seafood and shellfish.
With the outbreak, New Zealand Immigration has announced that it will bar citizens from coming to Solomon Islands or the neighboring Marshall Islands.
United States travelers are strongly advised to avoid swimming in contaminated water to avoid getting the disease, which occurs from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Taiwan has also issued a travel advisory for Guadalcanal, warning travelers to avoid active volcanoes, coastal areas and crowded markets to avoid catching the disease.
In the United States, Vibrio vulnificus can live on marine vegetation and soil, typically spread through feces of infected mammals, such as pigs, dogs, horses, dolphins, seals, whales, turtles, or birds.
“Pigs are the main source of infections. They bring Vibrio vulnificus into town and then humans become infected in these situations,” according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
United States health officials typically recommend to avoid eating raw raw shellfish as well as kissing someone or going in the ocean without protective clothing or shoes.
“Don’t shake hands with others, and if you are sick, stay home. Consider getting vaccinations for these Vibrio infections,” the EPA reports.