The Northwestern Health Unit provided NOTO with the following information from the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.
What is Giardiasis?
Giardiasis is an infection of the intestines caused by tiny parasites known as Giardia Lamblia. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, severe flatulence, weight loss and fatigue. Bowel movements may be loose, mucousy and greasy. One in every 25 people carry giardia without showing any symptoms. Symptoms appear within 5 to 25 days after contact, however, 7 to 10 days is the most common. Diarrhea usually lasts several weeks, but occasionally becomes chronic. Giardiasis occurs worldwide and children are infected more often than adults.
How is Giardiasis Spread?
Giardiasis is found in the gut of infected humans and animals (beavers, muskrats, pets, livestock). It is usually spread through fecally contaminated water supplies, or from touching human or animal feces. People should be cautioned against drinking untreated surface water like water from rivers, streams, springs and lakes. Swallowing water while swimming in any of these supplies also puts you at risk of acquiring a giardia infection. The parasite can also be spread from person to person through hand to mouth contact or unwashed hands touching items that will go into the mouth. It can spread quickly through a family when one member becomes infected or at daycare centres where children have close contact with each other. Infected food handlers can also spread the parasite to food if proper hand washing is not practiced.
How is Giardiasis Prevented?
- Thorough hand washing is the best prevention. Make sure hands are washed properly after using the toilet, handling diapers, pets or livestock and before handling foods.
- Avoid drinking water directly from rivers, creeks, lakes and when you are uncertain whether the water has been properly treated (such as foreign travel).
- Unpasteurized milk products should be avoided.
- When traveling, camping or hiking or if a "boil water" advisory has been issued, bring the water to a boil for five full minutes. This water should be used for drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing dentures or contact lenses, making icecubes, washing uncooked fruits and vegetables, and in recipes requiring water. Dishes should be washed with water that has been boiled.
What is Salmonellosis?
Salmonellosis is a food-borne infection caused by salmonella bacteria. Typical symptoms include sudden onset of stomach pain accompanied by diarrhea, nausea, fever and sometimes vomiting. Dehydration, especially among infants, may be severe. Although deaths are usually uncommon, the infection is more dangerous when it occurs in young children, the elderly or the debilitated. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 36 hours after ingestion of the bacteria and illness may last anywhere from several days to several weeks.
How is Salmonellosis Spread?
The Salmonella bacteria are found in the feces of wild and domestic animals, particularly in fowl, swine, cattle, turtles, dogs, cats and rodents. They may be found in certain foods such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, raw eggs and uncooked poultry or meats. Infected humans can be a source of the infection.
Illness usually occurs after individuals eat or drink foods contaminated with salmonella bacteria. In addition, the bacteria can spread from one food product to another. This happens if utensils or counter tops used to prepare contaminated foods are reused without proper cleaning and sanitizing.
Finally, people may be infected if they handle contaminated pets, animals or foods and neglect to thoroughly wash their hands afterward.
Certain conditions make it easy for the bacteria to grow. One of the most common is storing potentially hazardous foods at warm (room) temperatures between 5°C and 60°C which is considered the "danger zone". Undercooking of meats allows the bacteria to survive and multiply again.
How Is Salmonellosis Prevented?
- Thorough hand washing is the best prevention. Make sure hands are properly washed after using the toilet, handling pets or preparing foods.
- Clean and sanitize counter tops and utensils immediately after the preparation of foods, particularly meats and poultry.
- If possible, have separate cutting boards for raw and cooked meats.
- Drink only pasteurized milk (5°C-60°C)
- Store and serve foods out of "Danger Zone" temperatures.
- Make sure dairy products, meats and poultry are properly refrigerated at 5°C or lower.
- Cook poultry and meat thoroughly.
- Avoid using raw eggs, as in egg nogs or homemade ice cream and never use dirty or cracked eggs.
- If ill with diarrhea, avoid preparing or handling food.
- Keep in mind that turtles, chicks and ducks may be Salmonella carriers, and are not suitable pets for small children.
For more information, please contact your local health department.
This article was taken from pages 16-18 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, May/June 1998 Issue