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Increase in Foodborne Illnesses

Montgomery Twp. – The Health Department has seen an increase in the number of foodborne illnesses in our area, especially over the past month. Foodborne illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella, Giardiasis, and Campylobacter can pose serious health risks and may take several weeks to treat. Spoiled food can make a person sick any day of the year, but warm weather and summer barbeque picnics make the problem more common. According to Stephanie Carey, Montgomery Township Health Officer, “we are seeing a rising number of food-related illnesses for a few reasons – bacteria grows rapidly in warm and humid settings, and preparing food and eating outdoors makes it harder to follow simple safety rules”.

“When we see increased incidences of foodborne illnesses, we investigate each case separately, looking for trends that may link two or more cases together.  However, we often find that summer is the peak season for foodborne-related illnesses due to vacations, travel, and grilling or eating outdoors,” says Brianna Retsis, the Township’s Public Health Nurse.  “Health Education is key to preventing the spread of these illnesses that are mostly spread by the oral-fecal route. Simple measures, such as proper handwashing, and food-handling techniques can prevent foodborne illness, or food poisoning.

Signs and Symptoms of Foodborne Illness include:

§  Abdominal Cramps §  Weight Loss
§  Nausea/Vomiting §  Weakness/Fatigue
§  Severe (often bloody) Diarrhea §  Loss of Appetite
§  Fever §  Headache

The Health Department encourages four simple food safety tips:

  1. Wash hands and surfaces often. Unwashed hands are a prime cause of foodborne illness.  Hands should be washed with warm, soapy water before and after handling food.
  2. Don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw meats and uncooked food from ready-to-eat food.
  3. Cook to proper temperatures. Cooking at high enough temperatures will kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
  4. Refrigerate promptly. Food left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours may not be safe to eat.

For more information:

USDA: www.FoodSafety.gov

Fight BAC: www.fightbac.org/summer-1/

For questions or more information, please contact the Montgomery Township Health Department at (908) 359-8211

Mushroom

Mushroom Poisonings

NJ Poison Center Sees a Spike in Mushroom Poisoning
Don’t be the Next Case

August 3, 2017 Warning: Never eat wild mushrooms whether growing in your garden, on your lawn or in the wild!

15 cases since July 24, 2017
Ages of patients: 15 months to 75 years old

Several of these cases have resulted in hospitalizations with potentially life-threatening consequences. No matter the scenario, picking wild mushrooms is dangerous and risky.

Many edible mushrooms have toxic “look-a-likes.” Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause severe illness. Some symptoms of mushroom poisoning include intense vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, damage to vital organs like the liver and even death.

“Picking and eating wild mushrooms can be a dangerous game”, says Dr. Diane Calello, Medical Director of the NJ Poison Center, Rutgers NJ Medical School. “Even those who think they can identify a toxic mushroom can be fooled”.

Experienced mushroom pickers are even wrong sometimes, so we urge you to take this warning seriously. Online mushroom identification sites can be falsely reassuring. Parents must teach their children to never put wild plants, berries, nuts, or mushrooms into their mouths. Remember, your family pets are highly susceptible to mushroom poisoning as well.

If an exposure should occur, do not take a chance by waiting until symptoms appear or wasting time looking up information on the Internet. Time is of the essence especially when it comes to mushroom poisoning. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing, difficult to wake up, etc. call 9-1-1 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Calling the poison center is always the fastest way to get the medical help or information you need. The poison center will arrange for an expert to identify the mushroom and the center can then provide advice on management depending on the mushroom’s identification.

Remember to:

• Remove any remaining parts of the mushroom from the victim’s mouth and place those fragments and all mushrooms that are in the immediate vicinity of the incident into one or more paper bags (NOT plastic!).
• Take a digital photograph of the mushroom(s) in question. It helps to take a picture of the mushroom next to other objects such as a coin, ruler, etc. to provide a sense of scale.

Call to action: Be prepared for any emergency – keep the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) handy by saving it as a contact in your phone.

Help is Just a Phone Call Away!

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