The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising, and people are starting to go out and get together (in groups less than 10, of course) to enjoy the weather. You know what this means don’t you? No not cookouts or summer vacations. Even though both of those might be possible places you pick these up, I’m talking about stomach bugs and food poisoning.
When talking about stomach bugs, most of us are likely referring to some sort of viral gastroenteritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever. The most common way to develop viral gastroenteritis is through contact with an infected person or by ingesting contaminated food or water. Some of the more common culprits of viral gastroenteritis are Noroviruses and Rotavirus.
Now, when we talk about food poisoning, we are referring to an illness you get from eating contaminated food. The causes of these illnesses can be viruses, bacteria, parasites, or toxins and chemicals that contaminate food. The most common causes of foodborne illnesses are Norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter, and Staph. Common symptoms associated with these foodborne illnesses include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Sometimes these symptoms can be severe and life threatening.
So how can you prevent stomach bugs and food poisoning? When preparing food, remember these four simple steps to protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Clean hard surfaces around your kitchen, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, wash utensils, cutting boards and counters with hot soapy water, and rinse fruits and veggies under running water. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from ready to eat food. Cook foods to the right temperatures in order to kill the germs that can make you sick. Chill foods by refrigerating within 2 hours, keeping your refrigerator below 40 degrees, and thaw foods in the fridge, in cold water, or in the microwave. Follow this guidance and keep you and your loved one safe and healthy this summer.
Mikie Strite is the Regional Epidemiologist serving Meigs County.