A World Health Organization report released in December 2015 titled “Estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases” found that approximately 600 million people are affected by a foodborne disease ever year – that is 1 in 10 people in the world. Of this number 420,000 people die after consuming food that has been contaminated with bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins. This number includes 125,000 children under 5 years of age.
“The most common symptom of a food borne disease is diarrhea and depending on the severity of the infection diarrhea can be mild or severe. Examples of contaminated food include poorly cooked poultry, fruits and vegetables that have not been washed properly and seafood that contains marine bio toxins,” said Dr. Mohamed Shafeeq, Specialist Internal Medicine at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai. “One of the most common bacterial infections is salmonella. Consuming raw eggs or chicken that has not been properly cooked can result in salmonella and the most common symptoms of the infection are fever, nausea, headache, abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea. At the first sign of symptoms, the patient should be rushed to the hospital as it can lead to severe dehydration and can be life threatening if left untreated.”
Salmonella infections are treated with a course of antibiotics. However, depending on the severity of the infection the patient may be hospitalized and given an intravenous drip.
“Another common infection is the norovirus which is caused by consuming raw or undercooked seafood. It results in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. If left untreated the viral infection can result in liver disease in a person whose immunity system is already compromised,” he continued. “People sometimes call the norovirus a stomach flu or food poisoning. Unlike other viruses, the norovirus does not respond to antibiotics or antiviral drugs. To make sure the patient does not become dehydrated a Doctor will prescribe oral rehydration solutions or an IV drip.”
The Doctor advised on prevention and also the better management of an infected person to ensure the bacteria or virus is not spread.
“Make sure washrooms are disinfected regularly during the course of an infection and also be sure to keep an infected person away from the kitchen to prevent the transmission of the disease to others,” said Dr. Shafeeq. “Make sure poultry, beef and eggs are cooked thoroughly and avoid foods that contain raw eggs. Most people hesitate to send back undercooked food in restaurants but make sure to do so in order to avoid falling sick.”
“At Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai we are committed to overall wellbeing of the community and we hope by raising awareness on common illnesses we can prevent the spread of these viral and bacterial infections. While they may not be immediately life threatening, if left untreated these can lead to other illnesses,” Dr. Mohammed Berer, the Medical Director at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai.