• raw chicken campylobacter food poisoning

    Campylobacter food poisoning is not a mild dose of the runs

    Some people think that food poisoning is a mild illness which if anything might help them lose weight, but I recently watched this clip about a man who contracted Campylobacter food poisoning and developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, causing him to be paralysed. Having seen a friend also go through similar slow recovery from this syndrome, I know how awful, painful and frankly scary it is.

    I am sharing this because simple precautions can help to prevent what can be a life-changing or even life-threatening event. If we think about the chain of infection, the places to break that chain become very obvious, and are not even expensive. In the clip, Dai talks about the importance of cooking chicken to prevent illness, but there is more to it than that. It may be that he did cook his chicken properly, so how else could he have become ill?Read more

  • Keeping Safe on School Trips and Expeditions

    School Trips

    It’s great that our children get offered the chance to go on amazing adventures for Duke of Edinburgh Awards, or World Challenge, but before you wave goodbye, take a moment to think about their safety when they go away.

    Pre-trip

    If travelling abroad, then vaccinations may be needed, particularly for more exotic locations.

    Food Safety on the Move

    Closer to home, think about food safety when they are on their trips. I have recently heard of hair raising scenarios where children are preparing food for supper and using the left-overs the next day for lunch. This is fine if you have a fridge handy, but in a camp-site the consequences of keeping cooked food for many hours without chilled conditions could be potentially serious.

    Choose foods that can be kept at ambient temperatures – there are plenty of meals that come in lightweight packaging that can be cooked or eaten cold (but not saved for later once the packet is open). Where they take rice and pasta, make sure that they know not to save it for another meal, as bacteria such as Bacillus cereus could proliferate, leaving toxins behind which can cause illness.

    Water Safety

    Water is another issue. Some expeditions seem to expect children to take water from a stream and treat it with chlorine tablets. This could be potentially dangerous if the stream is heavily contaminated and contains organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium which do not get killed readily with chlorine alone – normally some form of filtration is needed to be sure. There is also a risk that children may not follow the instructions closely in relation to contact time, and of course the drinking bottles and containers may become contaminated as well. Wherever possible I would advise bottled water should be provided.

    Toilet Hygiene and Hand WashingHand washing may not be possible on expeditions

    Toilets are often not available or are very rudimentary, and wash basins may also not be around, even in camp-sites. This means that children need anti-bacterial wipes and hand gel to try to clean their hands as best they can.

    It is particularly important that they do clean their hands before snacking and eating, especially if they have been touching surfaces which may be contaminated by animal or bird faeces.

    Have a Good Trip!

    Overall we don’t want to wrap our children in cotton wool, but giving them a few pointers to stay safe may help to make the trip a more pleasant experience, with good memories to recall.

  • Dirty Pavements – Dog Poo and Spitting

    Health Risks From Dog Poo and Spitting

    Dog poo and spitting is disgusting but is it also a risk to health?

    Spitting

    Some councils have outlawed spitting and can levy fines of up to £5000 to perpetrators.

    So what are the health risks? Well once on the ground, the risk from spitting is limited because the transfer of infection is from inhalation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from someone carrying this illness coughing or spitting near you. When there are many carriers in the community, and people are in overcrowded conditions the risk increases.

    The cases in the UK are mostly attributed to people being infected abroad and travelling to the UK.

    It is a treatable disease, but worryingly there are strains which are multi-drug resistant. So whilst we don’t have a major health risk at the moment from spitting, perhaps it would be better not to be complacent and take measures to educate our children not to spit, and for local authorities to take action for what is, if nothing else, a fairly disgusting habit. For more information click here.

    Dog Poo

    Dog and cat faeces can carry a range of organisms one of which can lead to toxicariasis. This can lead to blindness and is of concern as it can be carried by unwormed dogs and cats and can be found in their faeces. So apart from the disgusting smell of dog poo, it can actually harm you as well. Councils need to make sure there are enough dog poo bins for dog walkers to dispose of faeces responsibly, and to empty them regularly enough – sometimes they are over-flowing in popular areas. There is a good factsheet from the NHS.

    Top tips for keeping safe:Dogs and Cats can carry diseases

    • Always make sure your and your child wash their hands when you come in from being outdoors
    • If you have to bring the buggy in check the wheels and if you touch them when folding the buggy up, remember your hands will be dirty so need washing
    • Take shoes off when you come into the house – particularly if you have children who are crawling
    • If you have to clean your shoes, use anti-bacterial wipes or sprays and paper towels and don’t use the kitchen sink or a re-usable cloth! Do it outside or in a bucket which you then disinfect afterwards
    • Take anti-bacterial wipes with you when out with your children in case they fall into dog poo or if you are going to give them something to eat on the go. Hand gel is also good when hands are visibly clean
    • Put lids on your sand pit to prevent cats using it as a litter tray
    • Teach children not to eat dirt or touch poo
    • Dog owners need to pick up poo, and use the bins – but also take care if they contaminated their hands – carry anti-bacterial wipes just in case
  • Pets are great, but take care when cleaning up dog poo

    Dog Poo and What to do with It!

    Dog Poo – how to stay safe

    Dog Poo Bins

    Over the last 20 years the British public have become much, much better at cleaning up after their dogs, but there is still a risk from the poo bins that you find in most public spaces, as with so many ‘deposits’ being made into these there is a risk of contamination on the lids and sides. Sadly I don’t have a dog at the moment, but here are some practical tips for dealing with poo!Read more