Archive for Sunday, September 7, 2008

Food poisoning: When to seek help

September 7, 2008

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Of the estimated 76 million cases of food-borne disease the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates occur each year in the United States, the majority cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting for just a day or two.

The CDC recommends consulting your doctor if diarrhea is accompanied by:

¢ high fever (temperature over 101.5);

¢ blood in the stools;

¢ prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down; or

¢ signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and dizziness when standing up.

A doctor should also be called if the diarrheal illness lasts more than three days.

Food poisoning cannot always be avoided. Tainted food does not always smell or taste bad. However, the CDC lists a few precautions people can take to reduce the risk:

¢ Cook: Meat and eggs need to be cooked thoroughly. Ground beef should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

¢ Separate: Avoid cross-contamination by washing hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.

¢ Chill: Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

¢ Clean: Wash your hands before preparing food. Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables in running tap water to remove dirt. Discard the outer leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.

¢ Report: Notify your local health department about suspected cases of food-borne illness. Scientists use this information to control the spread of illness.

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