August 21, 2006

Snail Snacks Cause Meningitis in Beijing: Report

BEIJING -- Eating raw or half-raw snails has led to almost 40 people in Beijing coming down with a parasite causing a form of meningitis, a state newspaper reported on Monday.

Around half of the victims had eaten a dish made with the Amazonian snails at a chain of Sichuan restaurants, the China Daily said. Beijing's health bureau has warned people to stay away from the popular snack, it added.

China has been struggling to control a rise in the number of food-related health incidents.

In 2004, a major health scandal erupted when China revealed that at least 13 babies had died from malnutrition in the country's impoverished eastern province of Anhui after being fed fake baby milk.

And several cases of bird flu in humans, which has infected 21 people, have been traced back to people eating sick birds.