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Apr 12, 2012

Healthy Living looks at Salmonella

Cleanliness is next to godliness.  That practice is as good as gold for whatever we consume.  In this week’s edition of Healthy Living we look at salmonella; a common bacteria in Belize that spreads quickly but can be prevented easily with proper hygiene. Here are tips from Pediatrician Cecilio Eck.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

When it comes to the food we eat, we don’t question very often the food preparation or hygienic practices of those preparing the meal. While many of us escape unscathed when we eat from our favorite street vendor, not everyone is so lucky. Pediatrician, Dr Cecilio Eck, talks about the effects of coming in contact with contaminated food. The main culprit discussed is salmonella.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Pediatrician

Cecilio Eck

“Salmonella is a kind of bacteria. It’s one of the common causes in Belize of gastroenteritis or infection of the gut. The symptoms include vomiting and loose stool.”

 

The most common cause of these symptoms is usually the Rota Virus. The vaccine to protect against the Rota Virus is available in Belize. Salmonella however, comes in a close second.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“In Belize a close second is Salmonella.  It is a bacteria, it’s pretty common because of our hygiene practices in Belize. The synonyms for the symptoms they cause include, stomach flu, stomach bug, gastroenteritis food poisoning. There all the same- almost all the same symptoms are the same for these.”

 

But what about our hygiene practices, make us more susceptible? We are, in fact, taught about washing our hands from preschool or some even sooner.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“In the ward last week I had maybe four kids lined up next to each other and we checked the blood test most of them were positive for salmonella. With the students, nurses and my intern, this same question was posed. And my answer to it is; immediately after this taping, me and you can open a tacos stand and people will come and buy from us and they won’t even check whether we have salmonella in our blood or our system, no public health official will check us, but a lot of them will come and buy. The first issue is that in Belize growing up as kids there is always a season: Boil corn season, mango season, sapra season and what happen is that it  is a haven for these food borne illnesses. Salmonella would be on top of that list. The second thing is how the food is prepared, we’re not sure how long it is cooked, the fruits that we eat, we’re not sure if they were washed properly or if the person who is doing the washing washed his hands before he prepares it. We don’t know where the salt comes from what else they cook in the container, what they put in that container. And we have little public health support because I’m not sure how often they are checked of if they are checked on a regular basis at all.”

 

Salmonella is spread not only by poor hygiene practices of food handlers and preparers but also by our own individual bad practices.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“It can also be gotten as well from poor hygiene. I have an awful diarrhea, I go to the bathroom I wash my hands and you come in and I say “Hi Marleni” and we shake and you go and buy your sapra and you eat it; a couple of those germs get into you. When they get in the incubation period is about two to three days to a week. Then you start with your nausea you want to vomit, then you get chills, fever may ensue then vomiting and then you start with the loose stools.”

 

The symptoms may last from four days to a week and then it should resolve. In some cases it takes a bit longer; and in some persons the effects are far more sever.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“I separate risk factors based on age: less than two do pretty poorly; between two and ten you vomit a little; over age ten you may just have two to three bouts of loose stool an you recover fully. But the people who end up in the hospital are the kids who continue to vomit, or have loose stool, who eventually who have electrolyte imbalance they become dehydrated. We have to admit, rehydrate and then give antibiotics.”

 

Other vulnerable groups other than young infants are the elderly and also very sever for persons with sickle cell anemia.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“You can have a patient who is clinically asymptomatic, you can have the simple infection causing the vomiting and diarrhea; you can get it spread into the joints, septic arthritis, you can get it in your bones, osteomyelitis or it can spread to the whole body and cause sepsis and kill you and these effects are most common with kids with sickle cell disease.”

 

The rainy season, summertime when children spend time in pools, and also post vacation time: like Easter are some of the times Dr. Eck sees a spike in persons with salmonella infections. Another important point is that it is contagious. Dr. Eck shares some suggestions on how to minimize it from spreading and methods of treatment.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“That kid should be using his or her own bathroom if possible; wash their hands regularly. The younger the child is the more devastating the illness will be. The treatment entails number one prevention, I say prevention. Wash your hands. Number two is rehydrate. Get electrolytes and liquids in the body. Thirdly, if the infection continues, then give antibiotic. If those don’t work, hospitalization where we will administer antibiotics.”

 

The main prevention is back to the basics with good hygiene. Also, be mindful of your contact with persons who are infected and ensure that your food sources are clean and the food well prepared.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living looks at Salmonella”

  1. Josephino Estroberto Pesomedio says:

    HOW MANY FOOD VENDORS ARE CHECKED BY THE HEALTH AUTHORITIES AND ON WHAT TIME BASIS?
    PLEASE HEALTH AUTHORITIES…PLEASE DO YOUR JOB. IT IS NOT A SIN FOR THE HEALTH AUTHORITIES TO ENFORCE THE HEALTH LAWS !!!
    PLEASE… PLEASE CHECK INSIDE THE COOKING AREA TO SEE HOW MANY DOGS INSIDE THE COOKING AREA !!!
    FOWLS ON TOP OF THE TABLES ETC ETC!!!!
    PLEASE CHECK ON THESE MAL PRACTICES !!!
    OH…AND PLEASE DON`T SELL THE CERTIFICATE IN A HURRY JUST FOR LITTLE FEE, IT CAN ALSO AFFECT YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONES !!!

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