Food poisoning and food borne illnesses
Most of us have suffered from eating something suspect, resulting in a trip to the toilet. But if you are or have been suffering from food poisoning you will know about it! Typically food poisoning takes a couple of days before the onset of symptoms and it can be more than a week before they end.
In most cases bacteria are responsible for causing food borne illnesses (such as campylobacter or salmonella), but not all. Other causes include:
- Viruses - can cause gastroenteritis, such as Norovirus - also known as 'winter vomiting disease' - problematic in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and on cruise ships
- Mycotoxins - can be carcinogenic - 'toxic mould' can affect some dried foods
- Poisonous plants and fish - like scombrotoxic fish poisoning
- Prions - an infectious agent resulting in nvCJD and BSE
Notification and investigation
The Environmental Health team is formally notified by local doctors and local hospitals when people living in the district are found to be suffering from food poisoning.
When these notifications are received the circumstances surrounding the illness are looked into to try to identify, where possible, the cause of the illness and to give advice so that more people do not become ill.
In some cases we may contact anyone infected to try and establish what caused the illness. We will also offer advice to prevent others from becoming infected. For instance, people who work in a food business and handle food must not work whilst they have symptoms of food poisoning and must also inform their manager.
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