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Food poisoning and infectious diseases - what to do

Environmental health will investigate certain types of food poisoning and infectious diseases to see if there is information which can help identify a cause, or if there is evidence of a wider problem within the local community.

Most cases will be a one off, and are identified as a result of the person suffering illness going to their GP and being tested to identify the cause of illness. Environmental health will work with colleagues in NHS Lothian to ensure that the illness does not spread any further through person to person contact, or through further contamination of food, drink or other source (e.g. water sport, drinking water, camping, animal contact etc.)

If you think you have become ill as a result of eating food or drink, or through other activities then you should contact your GP to seek medical advice, and request that samples are taken to identify the cause of infection. If any tests confirm the following types of infection causing organisms were involved, then it is likely that follow up investigations will be carried out by ourselves, or NHS Lothian (some further information is provided on each of these).

  • Salmonella.
  • E coli O157
  • Campylobacter.
  • Giardia.
  • Cryptosporidium.
  • Legionella.
  • Listeria

What should I do if I am ill?

As already mentioned above the first thing to do is seek medical advice from your GP.

Most infections which cause symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting are a concern because they can be spread to other people through poor hygiene. In such cases it is always important to ensure you are not preparing or handling food for other people, and that you are not sharing hand towels etc. while you are still unwell. Wash all dirty clothes, bedding and towels in the washing machine on the hottest cycle possible. Clean toilet seats, toilet bowls, flush handles, taps and wash hand basins after use with detergent and hot water, followed by a household disinfectant.

If you work with food, in health care or with vulnerable people you may have to be formally excluded from work. If you work with food etc. you should advise your employer and avoid normal duties until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours, or until any formal exclusion from work has been removed.

Further information on Food poisoning and infectious diseases: