Two Rivers: foodborne illnesses

MGN/ photo

From Two Rivers Public Health Department:

During the summer months, foodborne illness (commonly known as food poisoning) peaks because of the warmer temperatures, grilling, picnics, cookouts. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. This is relevant because there have been several recent foodborne illness outbreaks from romaine lettuce, honey smacks cereal, veggie trays, and pre-cut melons.

What does the health department have to do with foodborne illness?

One of the tasks of local public health departments is to monitor diseases, such as foodborne illnesses in order to protect the health of the public. The health department is notified when hospitals and labs detect certain diseases. After the notification, the health department may conduct an interview with those affected and then will report findings to the CDC. This is how outbreaks of disease are identified.

How do you get a foodborne illness?

You can get a foodborne illness after swallowing food that has been contaminated with a variety of germs. After you eat the contaminated food there is a delay before symptoms of illness begin. This delay may range from hours to days, depending on the germ and on how many germs you swallowed.

The most common symptoms of a foodborne illness include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.

What germs cause foodborne illnesses?

More than 250 different foodborne disease have been described. Some of the most common are E.coli, norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter. After you eat food contaminated with these germs they pass through the stomach into the intestine, attach to the cells lining the walls of the intestine and begin to multiply. The symptoms you experience depend on the germ that you swallowed.

Current foodborne illness outbreaks

How can you help protect yourself and your family from a foodborne illness?


• Wash your hands and surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.

• Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.


• Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.


• Cook to the correct temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.


• Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods properly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to 1 hour.)

What should you do if you think you have a foodborne illness?

See your doctor if you have:

• High fever

• Blood in the stools

• Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

• Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.

• Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

For more information visit CDC Facebook page, or

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