What You Need to Know About Gastroenteritis – Often Caused by Food Borne Pathogens
Lets be clear on one thing, Gastroenteritis is no fun. In most cases, it is caused by rotavirus in children, and norovirus or bacterial food poisoning in adults. A person becomes infected with viral or bacterial food poisoning usually through consuming some sort of contaminated food product. The food can become contaminated at the “source,” during shipping or preparation, or simply because someone with dirty hands picks it up to put it in their own mouth. These food products include raw meats, dairy products, unwashed vegetables, and just about any other food on the market. In other words, it is important to follow proper food handling practices and food manufacturing regulations from A to Z to prevent this from happening.
But when this does happen, people can become ill with Gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is when a person’s stomach and intestines become inflamed, and they begin experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other less common symptoms include fever, cramping, and headaches. It is important when someone becomes sick with this illness that they stay hydrated because the number one reason people become hospitalized with this illness is a lack of fluids/dehydration. Very often, the victims required IV fluids when stricken with Gastroenteritis.
As mentioned beforehand, Gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by rotavirus in children. It is also, according to WebMD, “the world’s most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children.” In adults on the other hand, this illness is most often the result of norovirus, the most common cause of food poisoning illness in the United States. Other foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, campylobacter, or E.coli are also the cause of serious Gastroenteritis – a general rule of thumb is that the symptoms of viral Gastroenteritis tend to last a matter of a few days, with bacterial infections lasting seven to ten days. A case of Cyclosporiasis, from the parasite Cyclospora, can last a month or two!
Gasrtroeteritis Spreads Easily – Oral Fecal Route
How is Gastroenteritis most commonly spread? The three most frequent ways according to WebMD, are coming into contact with someone who has a virus, contaminated food or water, and unwashed hands. But a closer look is necessary here. What is it that is being spread when people eat a contaminated food item? In most cases, it is a pathogen traveling via the oral fecal route. In short, an animal or person who is infected gets the pathogen, and they spread it by “shedding the pathogen” and spreading to to others. Hands can become easily contaminated especially after going to the bathroom or changing a babies diaper. Those same hands can touch counters, serving spooks, tables, or a person can touch their own face with contaminated hands.
One food poisoning lawyer remarked, “Though it is said over and over again, I will reiterate that washing your hands is really the biggest way to prevent illness. Wash your hands before, after, and during making a meal, and wash your hands after using the bathroom, especially ones in public places.”
Because Gastroenteritis can be so contagious, in whatever form it takes, it is very important that the person ill with this virus stays home from both work and school for at least 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped. This is because, though many do not realize this, even after a person has begun to feel better, they can still be contagious. A person can continue to “shed” the virus or the bacteria at least three days after recovery and spread it to dozens of people while recovering without even realizing it.
Gastroenteritis is tricky, and it is important if a person’s symptoms worsen/become severe that they go to the emergency room or see their local health provider immediately.