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Avoid food-borne illnesses this holiday season

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Any time there is a large gathering that involves food, there is the possibility for food poisoning to occur. Often, during the Christmas and New Year's gatherings, people will prepare a dish at home to take with them to another house. With all the excitement, it is too easy to forget that some foods should be refrigerated as quickly as possible.

Potato, pasta and other salads made with eggs should be kept cold. All meat should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature as noted on a meat thermometer. Keep any left-over foods in the refrigerator until the next meal, not on a dining table or stove. Don't consume homemade eggnog with raw eggs.

People who are ill with diarrhea and/or vomiting should not prepare foods for others to consume. The possibility is too great that a food-borne illness could be spread to others. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women, infants and people with poor immune systems. Always wash hands frequently while preparing a meal. Food poisoning can occur at any point during the growing process, slaughter of animals, and preparation or storing of a food item.

Don't be afraid to ask someone how long a particular food has been without refrigeration. Food poisoning is one illness that is difficult for some people to get over. Depending on the exact cause, the illness can last from one to ten days. Some forms will appear to be over, then return to cause symptoms again and again.

Symptoms:

Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, watery diarrhea and fever will keep a person close to a bathroom. If diarrhea persists in someone who is unable to keep fluids down, they need to be hospitalized. Also, if there is blood in the stool or vomiting is so severe as to hinder hydration, a physician should be consulted.

Treatments:

The best treatment is a natural one, drink plenty of water and ginger ale. Try to eat bland foods such as crackers to replace the salts lost from diarrhea and vomiting. Rest as much as possible and don't prepare foods for others.

Report any suspected food-borne illness to the local health department, especially if it is believed that the suspect food came from a public restaurant or food caterer.

Watch the video for a fascinating look at how food poisoning reacts in the human digestive tract.

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