Salmonella Agony

The latest figures for the recent outbreak of salmonella agona show that some 132 people have now been infected with the bug and it’s already spread to 5 countries within the European Union. The genetic fingerprint of the microbe has been linked to a particular production line at Dawn Farm Foods in Naas, Co. Kildare. The company has decided to close the entire plant for a week and has contracted the expertise of Limerick company OMC Scientific, to decontaminate the entire production facility. How times have changed.

Many years ago when holidaying in Connemara, our holiday plans came to an abrupt end when the friends who’d been staying with us, had to return home following the sudden death of a relative. Our little holiday cottage felt very empty with just my husband, myself and our young son rattling around in it so to cheer ourselves up, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in a local hotel. Later that evening, I became violently ill with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea which continued relentlessly all night. I still felt very unwell the following day so we decided to give up on the holiday and return home. I shall never forget that 6-hour car journey with awful nausea, every mile was agony. My husband and son luckily were unaffected and sang songs together all the way home to help pass the time. As far as I can remember, I recovered within a few days but a week or so later, I again became increasingly nauseated until the whole unpleasant episode started all over again.  I consulted my doctor who prescribed medication to ease the symptoms. This pattern repeated itself every few weeks until eventually about two months later and two stone lighter, I was admitted to hospital for investigation and treatment. This is when it emerged that I had a dangerous form of infective diarrhoea and the bacteria was linked back to the piece of chicken I’d eaten for lunch on that fateful day in Connemara. My infection was officially notified to the Food Safety Authority and that was the last I ever heard of the sorry tale. I’ve often wondered since how many other poor souls suffered the same fate after eating food from that kitchen and I have to admit, I still to this day shudder whenever I pass by the doors of that hotel.

The HSE is presently in talks with OMC Scientific to consider using it’s technology in Irish hospitals, to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HCAI’s) such as MRSA and clostridium difficile. OMC’s bio-decontamination service is already used in a number of British, French and American hospitals. A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that this technology is 66 times more effective than manual cleaning in removing hospitals superbugs. It’s estimated it would cost the HSE about €14 million a year to cover all 52 acute hospitals in the country but this would lead to a reduction in the prevalence of superbugs which is thought to cost the HSE about €200 million a year. Now there’s a cutback worth considering!

13 Responses to Salmonella Agony

  1. Grannymar says:

    With that image I am glad I dined at home!

    €186 million would cut waiting times for tests right down and save lives into the bargain.

  2. I had salmonella poisoning on holidays ….. on a bus in the middle of nowhere …. taxi had to be called to ferry me home …. urgently!

    Not a pleasant experience ….

  3. Dr.JaneDoe79 says:

    Apparently-and this is NOT sound medical advice! just something I was told by a scientist friend of mine, if you eat something and suspect it may be gone off-it tasted a bit weird or you ate a bit and then saw it looked a bit pink in the middle etc etc, then you should asap drink a couple of cups of strong black coffee, the darker the better! Supposedly the tannic acid (or something) kills bacteria in the stomach before they get a chance to multiply too much. I have to say-I’ve never had food poisoning and I’ve always done this if I bit into a pink looking bit of chicken, or swallowed a bit of sushi that afterwards I thought tasted a bit strange. I’ve felt a bit sick for a day or two after eating funny sushi in Barcelona in the heat (yes, very dumb!) but as soon as I suspected it was funny I ordered two double espressos. Weird, but I think it works! Again-not proper doctor advice! 🙂

  4. Steph says:

    Grannymar – you get a gold star for your mathematics 😀 Pity the HSE couldn’t work those figures out!

    Paddy – lovely to hear from you! Are you twitter’ing yet?

    I’d say that taxi driver deserved a LARGE tip 😉

    Jane – how did you know that my one addiction (other than blogging of course) is coffee? And the stronger the better!

    I had no reason to suspect the piece of chicken I ate in the hotel and luckily, I was the only member of the family to order chicken that day.

    btw I think there may be a problem with your comment facility over at Two Weeks since you introduced ‘comment moderation’. I left a comment on each of the last two posts at least a week ago and neither have appeared.

    Either that or I’ve been banned! 😦

  5. Baino says:

    I’ve been lucky too, I have an industrial constitution and don’t seem to be too badly affected if I eat something a bit on the odd side. Very unpleasant for you though. I often wonder about the hygeine of these fast food places in Mall food courts. Sometimes, I nip across the road rather late (forget to eat – how could I?) and at 2 or 3 in the afternoon there is still Chinese food, Turkish pides, Japanese, still sitting in the bain maries. . .must admit if I’m that late, I usually opt for a sandwich! Whats with the twittering? I registered but I’m afraid I don’t get it . . .seems to be a lot of “I had lettuce for lunch”. . . .

  6. Steph says:

    Hi! Baino

    Lucky you! My husband has iron guts too and the only time he suffers is if/when he over-imbibes and of course that gets NO sympathy.

    The reference to twitter followed reading the post below which made me realise that I was getting left behind as regards Twitter. I’m still not quite sure what it is I’m missing but if it’s so much a part of people’s lives, then it must be good?

    http://distantrambler.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/a-question-of-twitter/

  7. A friend of mine got salmonella in Morocco. He had a similar experience to yourself, problems recurring on and off for some time afterwards leading to hospitalisation. Now he has quite serious arthritis as a consequence and needs regular injections to control it. Nasty business.

  8. Steph says:

    Hello! Thrifty

    I’m very interested to hear your comment. I used to suspect that a lot of my medical problems were as a result of that run-in with salmonella as one thing after another seemed to go wrong afterwards. So much has happened since, I’d actually forgotten that awful summer until I read about the current outbreak of salmonella agona. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Nausea has to be one the most debilitating of conditions.

  9. Dr.JaneDoe79 says:

    We introduced comment moderation? that’s news to me! I’ll have to ask Thunder about that one. I was wondering why we weren’t getting comments anymore 😦

  10. Food bugs tend to be a bit rife over here and they seem to get worse each year – particularly in summer. I ended up with three months worth of dysentery last year as the result, I believe, of olives from the deli counter at the big supermarket. When I spoke to the doctor he said that particular supermarket chain had been singled out for having a bundle of food workers who had some type of dysenteric bug but who hadn’t been booked off sick. Charming.

    The idea of using the OMC technology sounds brilliant – the cost savings alone should motivate the use – even if “management” don’t care much for patients well being!

  11. Steph says:

    Oh! AV

    My heart goes out to you! You poor thing, how debilitating! That’s enough to put you off olives for life. And I bet you don’t shop for fresh food in that supermarket any more!

  12. @AV/Steph: Supermarkets encourage problems like this inadvertantly. If you read the book “Not on the label” it talks (among other things) about how producers have no option but to hire labour from Gangmasters who typically provide unskilled labour from a pool of (legal or illegal) immigrants who are packed into poor quality accomodation and work all the hours God sends. A prime recepie for outbreaks of all sorts of disease, feeding straight into the prime distibutors of our food chain.

  13. Steph says:

    Thrifty – Thank you. You’ve just reinforced my decision to buy most of our fresh food from our small, local shops where I know all the staff and to reserve trips to the supermarket for stocking up on non-perishable items. I also love to shop at our Sunday open-air market where producers sell their fresh produce direct to the customer. It does work out more expensive but I’d rather quality over quantity any day.

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