Getting a stomach bug is never fun. Just last week I had a bad case of food poisoning myself, which ended up with me in hospital, on a drip, as they loaded me up with a ton of antibiotics, fluids, and other medicine to get me back on my feet. That's what's inspired the post today, as once the SHTF the hospitals aren't going to be there anymore, and that's not going to be fun. A simple case of food poisoning takes a much more sinister turn when you aren't able to get the right treatment, and you may find that you're now in a potentially deadly situation. To help prepare you for this eventuality, I'm going to run through the different types of food poisoning, and what you can expect should someone in your group contract one of these.
Novovirus When one of your colleagues calls in sick with a 'stomach bug' they've most probably got novovirus. It's the most common cause of food poisoning, and is responsible for over half of all food poisoning cases each year. Poor hygiene and improper food handling are the culprits. Symptoms include nausea, projectile vomiting, watery diarrhea, chills, headaches, a light fever, abdominal pain, as well as aches and pains in your muscles. The only real treatment is to wait out the symptoms and to stay hydrated. In a couple of days, you should be feeling better. If there's someone in your group with food poisoning, be careful, as novovirus can be transmitted through a direct contact with their bodily fluids, and their feces. Remember, even as you're bugging out to keep things clean, washing your plates and any cooking or eating utensils thoroughly. Don't let any infected members of your group prepare food, lest they transfer it to everyone else. It's better to just keep them out of the kitchen for a couple of days, even once they appear to be better. Bleach is highly effective at killing the virus, and give your hands a good wash with warm water and soap before every meal. Tests found this was more effective than the alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Cook every piece of meat thoroughly, and wash every piece of produce well before you consume it, if you want to reduce your chances of getting a stomach bug.
Botulism One of nature's most poisonous biological substances, the bacteria Clostridium botulinum causes a rare, but extremely serious form of food poisoning commonly known as botulism. What makes this a scary one is that it's a neurotoxin, which means that the poisons act to shut down your nervous system. It's most commonly contracted from canned goods that have been improperly prepared, or damaged, and can occur in both store-bought and home-made items. Symptoms include facial paralysis, drooping eyelids, muscle weakness, blurry vision and a dry mouth, difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing and speaking, as well as nausea, vomiting and paralysis. In an infant, you may also see constipation, drooling, drooping eyelids, flopping around, and difficulty sucking. Once the SHTF treating botulism is not going to be pretty. The main goal is to eliminate the toxin from your system, which requires inducing vomiting and bowel movements to get the poison out of your body as quickly as possible. It's not recommended you take antibiotics, as they can speed up the release of the toxin in food-borne botulism. Avoidance is the best prevention method for botulism, and to stop eating canned goods you suspect are bad, especially fruits and vegetables that have low acidity, as well as meats and fish. If a can has been damaged and air has breached the food inside, or you suspect the lid hasn't sealed correctly, do not eat it. It's just not worth the risk.
E Coli This is another bad-boy to avoid, and is caused when you eat a contaminated product, like hamburger meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, soft cheeses, and even alfalfa sprouts. You can also catch if from drinking contaminated water, or coming into contact with a contaminated person or animal. E Coli spreads from an infected persons hands to other people and objects very easily. Now here's why it's bad. If you manage to catch even the less-severe strain, you can expect the symptoms to last anywhere from 5 - 10 days. You'll be looking at severe diarrhea, frequent vomiting, and terrible pain in your abdomen. The best treatment method is to stay hydrated and rest, antibiotics will not help. You should also avoid anti-diarrhea medicines because they slow the rate food passes through your intestines, allowing your body more time to absorb the poisons, which can cause severe problems with your blood and kidneys.
Salmonella Salmonella is a particularly nasty bacteria that thrives in your intestinal tract. Salmonella poisoning is a direct result of eating undercooked meat (such as chicken), or contaminated seafood, meat or eggs. Fruits and vegetables that have been treated with fertilizer from an infected animal can also harbor this bacteria, and need to be washed thoroughly before you eat them. The most common way you will get salmonella poisoning is if you're not keeping your cooking areas and utensils clean. Using a knife on infected meat, then using it to slice a piece of fruit without washing the knife will contaminate the fruit. You need to wash everything to ensure its clean, but what's good about salmonella is you can kill it very easily, by cooking it, which makes it important to cook every piece of meat well. The symptoms of salmonella will start to show anywhere from several hours to two days after first being infected with the bacteria. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headaches, chills as well as bloody stool. After four to seven days you should be feeling better, but it can take several months for your stomach to feel 100% again. You can treat salmonella by staying hydrated, and you can also take anti-diarrheal medicine and antibiotics. When it comes to food poisoning, prevention is easy. Just keep things clean, follow sanitary cooking methods, don't eat anything that looks or smells off, and always wash your hands before you start a meal. Be very careful if you're treating a family member suffering from food poisoning as the bacteria is very contagious, especially if you come in contact with highly infectious bodily fluids like their feces. Keep it clean, and you'll be able to avoid most of the problems we face with food poisoning.