FOODBORNE ILLNESS NOT JUST LIMITED TO BACTERIAL VIRUSES AND PARASITES BUT TOXINS TOO
APRIL 8, 2019 @3.50 PM
Foodborne illness, more commonly referred to as food poisoning, is the result of eating contaminated, spoiled or toxic food.
Dr Patricia Lim Su Lyn (pix) consultant consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist KPJ Tawakkal Specialist Hospital explained the most common symptoms to be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
“Food poisoning is not just limited to bacterial viruses or parasites. It could also be toxins and at times, you might not even know the cause.”
“The severity between food poisoning is far worse than gastroenteritis because it is caused by a toxin, and you can have severe effects if you are continously being contaminated. For example, led poisoning – that’s a type of poisoning which has adverse effects.”
“Led poisoning – happens through contaminated water. For example, living near a factory that is dealing with batteries where residues may be leeching into the water supplies. If the sanitation is poor, you may be drinking contaminated water and that could lead to this problem. Symptoms can be very mild including diarrhoea, tummy cramps to severe bloody diarrhoea.”
“Dehydration is a major concern affecting both spectrums of the age group – children as well as adults. If the patient has food poisoning or gastroenteritis and vomiting continuously, there is a risk of severe dehydration. The patient may not be conscious enough to realise that and to replace the fluids and that could lead to collapse and shock.”
Bacteria is by far the most prevalent cause of food poisoning. E coli and Salmonella from uncooked poultry and eggs are the biggest culprit of serious food poisoning cases.
“Food poisoning caused by parasites is not as common as food poisoning caused by bacteria, but parasites spread through food are still very dangerous. Toxoplasma is the parasite seen most often in cases of food poisoning. It’s typically found in cat litter boxes.”
“So, if you don’t practice good hygiene, you deal with the litter and proceed to have your food – you may ingest the parasite. This however, is more severe in persons with weaker immune system. So, we may actually get it and not know that you have it – and with weaker immune system such as those with diabetes and cancer patients, the symptoms may be severe.”
“Food poisoning can also be caused by a norovirus, also known as the Norwalk virus, rotavirus and Hepatitis A virus is a serious condition that can be transmitted through food.”
To replenish the fluids, oral rehydrating solutions may be given but if the patient is very dehydrated, hospital admission and drips may be required.