You think that zombies only exist in the world of comic books, films and computer games? You have obviously never been infected with a food poisoning pathogen.
You will start to notice a headache followed by a fever and stomach cramps. You’ll be thinking to yourself ‘I got the flu’, or even worse the dreaded Man Flu. Not long after these symptoms start you will get the urge to run to the toilet were you will be hugging the bowl and trying to aim your projectile vomit like an out of control flame thrower.
But wait, it isn’t over just yet, you will then be grasping to the porcelain throne for dear life with explosive diarrhoea that will possibly put your toilet out of action for some time to come. You can be forgiven for blaming the last place you ate at, however, this is not always the case and you could have given yourself the infecting dose up to a week ago, all will be explained later.
After a couple of days of this constant back and forth from the loo, it may now resembles the scene from trainspotting, you know the one, the worst loo in Scotland. You would feel like you have lost a stone in weight, the colour to your skin disappears and all you can muster is an indistinguishable groan. You guessed it you are now a zombie, Fact! But don’t worry this is normally survivable, but has been known to be fatal.
Let’s start by looking at the most common cause of Zombieitis in the UK, more commonly known as food poisoning, our enemy ‘Campy’ by which I mean Campylobacter. This is a ninja pathogen, you can’t see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it and at its worst, it can kill you.
Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after consuming contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting, It can last for between 2 and 10 days.
It’s estimated that about a quarter of a million people in the UK alone could be struck down by Campylobacter this year.
I am now going to share with you the four most important tips to avoid being infected by Campy the Ninja Pathogen:
- Cover and chill raw chicken
- Cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as Campylobacter.
- Don’t wash raw chicken. Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including Campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
- Wash used utensils, thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of Campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.
- Cook chicken thoroughly. Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
The FSA’s is fighting against Campylobacter like Master Chief cutting his way through the flood, by launching Food Safety Week 2014 (16th – 22nd June). Keep an eye out for the following #tags during this week, #FSW2014 and #PlayingChicken
Further advice is available at http://www.food.gov.uk/chicken.
Avoid the infection, don’t wash raw chicken.
By Ryan Cobb, a Local Government Outbreak Responder