Health

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Travelling raises risk of contracting food poisoning

The peak time for salmonella was June and July, the months when people travel abroad. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The peak time for salmonella was June and July, the months when people travel abroad. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

THERE were 314 reported cases of salmonella in 2012, the bug that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, headache, vomiting, fever and dehydration.

Babies, the elderly and people whose immune system is weak are particularly vulnerable.

More than a quarter of those affected were children under five. During 2012, the peak times for the illness were June and July, largely due to travel.

Where travel history was documented, the three countries mostly implicated are Spain, Thailand and the Philippines.

There were four family outbreaks during 2012, two of which were in private houses and two were travel-associated. Of the two travel-associated family outbreaks, one reported exposure in China and the other in Spain.

Salmonella bacteria are often found in raw meat and poultry. They can also be passed into dairy products such as eggs and unpasteurised milk. Common causes of food poisoning include:

* Not cooking food thoroughly (particularly poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs).

* Not storing food that needs to be chilled below 5°C correctly.

* Keeping cooked food unrefrigerated for more than an hour.

* Eating food that has been touched by someone who is ill with diarrhoea and vomiting.

* Cross-contamination (the spread of bacteria from contaminated foods).

In most cases, food poisoning can be treated at home without seeking medical advice.

It is very important not to become dehydrated because it makes the symptoms worse and slows down recovery. Dehydration is a risk because fluid is lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.

The advice is to drink as much water as possible, even if it is only possible to sip it.

Irish Independent

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