Q: I was wondering if there is a stomach bug going around in the Central Ohio area? I, along with several others, have been experiencing stomach pain and diarrhea on and off for about a week.
A: As of this posting, there are no new bugs happening to our knowledge. If you are having these symptoms for more than a few days, you should see a clinician for an evaluation.
Student Health watches for any information on illnesses in the community that could impact our students. Our colleagues at the OSU Medical Center, Columbus Public Health, and Ohio Department of Health provide expert support. Several weeks ago, when the E coli O145 appeared in Ohio, Michigan, and New York, we worked together looking for cases and performing surveys to help identify the cause. This was the first suspected outbreak of this particular bacterium in the US.
Meanwhile, with the spring growing season underway, and warmer spring and summer temperatures, it is also the time of year for illnesses related to poor food handling. I hope that was not the case for you, but here are a few tips from the Ohio Department of Health for all of us to keep in mind:
- Wash hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food, after using the bathroom, changing diapers or after contact with animals.
- Thorough hand washing is defined as using warm water and washing with soap for at least 30 seconds. In public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.
- Wash meat thermometers, counters and utensils with hot, soapy water after coming in contact with raw meat.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables well, especially those that will be served raw.
Food and Grilling Safety
- Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use, and keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods.
- Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature. Whole poultry, 180 °F; breasts, 170 °F; Ground beef hamburgers, 160 °F; ground poultry, 165 °F. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops, 145 °F. All cuts of pork, 160 °F.
- After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
- When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
- In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
Some other wise tips
- Drink only pasteurized milk, juice or cider.
- Keep your cooler out of the direct sun and place it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening too often. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
Adapted from Summer Safety, an ODH Feature last updated 5/27/10
Have a healthy summer!
Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD