More than 60 people on Jersey have developed symptoms of salmonella in the past week in a suspected outbreak.The food poisoning can last up to seven days and can be very serious for young people, the elderly and people with a poor immune system. Jersey health officials said anyone who suspected they had salmonella should take plenty of fluids.
Val Cameron, the Head of Health Protection Services, said summer barbeques was the likely cause. She said indications so far suggested that the current strain was not as harmful as some. “Food poisoning is usually mild, and most people get better within a week,” she said. “But sometimes it can be more severe, even deadly, so it’s important to take the risks seriously.”
The department of health is expecting the number of people infected to rise as the hot weather continues.
Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Typically, food poisoning causes gastroenteritis – an infection of the gut (intestines) which leads to diarrhoea and being sick (vomiting). Salmonella bacteria may be found in the gut of many animals, including farm animals and pets. Poultry (chickens, turkeys, etc.) are especially likely to carry salmonella. So, salmonella can contaminate meat (including poultry), eggs, milk and other dairy products that we may eat. Infection usually causes relatively mild symptoms but complications, including lack of fluid in the body (dehydration), can occur in some cases. The usual treatment is to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Antibiotic medicines are sometimes needed in some cases. The Foods Standards Agency in the UK has identified the ’4 Cs’ to help prevent food poisoning, including food poisoning caused by salmonella.
What is salmonella?
Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Food poisoning occurs when food or water contaminated with germs (microbes), poisons (toxins) or chemicals is eaten or drunk. Microbes include bacteria, viruses and parasites. Parasites are living things (organisms) that live within, or on, another organism. Typically, food poisoning causes an infection of the gut (intestines), called gastroenteritis. This infection leads to diarrhoea and being sick (vomiting).
There are over 2,500 different strains (subtypes) of salmonella.
One type of salmonella, Salmonella typhi (S. typhi), can cause typhoid fever. This is a serious disease which can be life-threatening if not treated quickly with antibiotic medicines. It causes diarrhoea at first and then high temperature (fever), headache, stomach cramps, skin rash, feeling sick (nausea) and loss of appetite.
Another type of salmonella, Salmonella paratyphi (S. paratyphi), can cause paratyphoid fever. This is a similar illness to typhoid fever but symptoms are generally milder. Typhoid and paratyphoid are almost exclusively caught abroad in countries with poor sanitation. It can be passed on in the stools (faeces) and in the urine of infected people. Infection with S. typhi and S. paratyphi causing typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever is uncommon in the UK. Infection with various other strains is quite common.
Reporting the food poisoning episode
If you suspect that you or your child have salmonella or any other type of food poisoning from eating takeaway or restaurant food, you should report this to your local environmental Health Office. This is so that the business can be investigated by environmental health officers and further actions may be taken if there is a problem with their food hygiene practices. This will hopefully help to reduce the chance that other people will get food poisoning. You can find your local food standards enforcer at http://www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/enforceessential/yourarea
Preventing the spread of salmonella to others
If you (or your child) have salmonella, the following are recommended to prevent the spread of infection to others:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet. Ideally, use liquid soap in warm running water, but any soap is better than none. Dry properly after washing. If your child wears nappies, be especially careful to wash your hands after changing nappies and before preparing, serving, or eating food.
- If a potty has to be used, wear gloves when you handle it, dispose of the contents into a toilet, then wash the potty with hot water and detergent and leave it to dry.
- Don’t share towels and flannels.
- Don’t prepare or serve food for others.
- If clothing or bedding is soiled, first remove any stools (faeces) into the toilet. Then wash in a separate wash at as high a temperature as possible.
- Regularly clean with disinfectant the toilets that you use. With hot water and detergent, wipe the flush handle, toilet seat, bathroom taps, surfaces and door handles at least once a day. Keep a cloth just for cleaning the toilet (or use a disposable one each time).
- Stay off work, school, college, etc., until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or being sick (vomiting). Avoid contact with other people as far as possible during this time.
- Food handlers: if you work with food and develop diarrhoea or vomiting, you must inform your employer and immediately leave the food-handling area. If salmonella is confirmed, you should inform your employer and stay away from work until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting. Antibiotics are sometimes given to clear the infection.
If you have salmonella infection and you work with vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly, the unwell or the young, you should inform your employer.
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Course Aims for the Food Hygiene Training CIEH Level 2
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