Infectious Disease Control and Investigation
We investigate food poisoning and certain other food borne illnesses which are notifiable.
Certain infectious diseases are notifiable to the Health Authority and these are investigated by Public Health England or by officers of the Local Authority. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Protection Unit is responsible for the surveillance, investigation, prevention and control of communicable disease in these counties.
The purpose of an investigation is to try to prevent the spread of illness within the community and to try and establish possible causes. Advice is also given to the patient on how to prevent the spread of disease within the home.
Many different sorts of bacteria (germs) can cause food borne illness. When food is kept warm, these bacteria can grow rapidly and reach dangerous levels within hours. The numbers of cases of food borne illness have increased dramatically over the past few years, particularly during the Summer months. Good food hygiene standards in industry and the home are vital to prevent food borne illness.
The incubation period (time taken from eating the food to feeling unwell) varies with each type of organism and in some cases can be up to 10-15 days after consumption of the food. It is important to realise therefore, that the last meal you ate may not be the cause of your symptoms.
The main causes of food poisoning and food borne illness are:
- preparing foods too far in advance
- not cooking foods properly
- not defrosting foods correctly
- storing foods incorrectly (i.e. too warm) so that bacteria can grow quickly
- cross contamination of foods after cooking
- infection from people handling foods due to poor hygiene
Who is at Risk? We all are, but babies, young children and the elderly can very quickly become very ill when infected. Pregnant women, people who already have a pre-existing illness, and anyone whose immune system is weakened can also be seriously affected by food borne illness.
What are the Main Symptoms of Food-Borne Illness / Food Poisoning?
- stomach cramps
What to do if you have symptoms of food borne illness: Food borne illness can spread quickly, partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food and partly because the bacteria may be picked up by close family contact (e.g. nursing the sick). Viruses can also cause illness, similar to food poisoning and they also spread very quickly. If you suspect you are suffering food poisoning it is recommended that you visit your doctor as soon as possible, who might ask you to submit a sample for examination. Samples are useful in that they might be able to show which food-borne illness you are suffering from, or could rule out a food-poising organism. Viruses can also be detected. Consult your doctor immediately if the person affected is a baby, elderly or has an existing illness or condition or if symptoms are prolonged or severe (e.g. bloody diarrhoea).
If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, it is recommended that you follow the advice below to try and prevent the spread of the illness:
- wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling food.
- do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering with food borne illness.
- clear up soiling accidents straightaway, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach.
- disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use and disinfect the toilet bowl frequently.
- drink plenty of fluids while you are ill to prevent dehydration.
Contact us: By email,