Remember this? Once again it has come to bother us.
The Salmonella genus of bacteria is a common cause of food poisoning. The genus also includes Salmonella typhi, which causes Typhoid Fever. It commonly occurs in places with poor sanitation and water supply. In this incident, the culprit was Salmonella enteritidis. It is commonly found in undercooked poultry and unpasteurized milk, undercooked eggs and by contact with rodents and reptiles.
The disease in this case is most probably Salmonellosis. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, vomiting and fever. All the victims affected suffered diarrhea and vomiting. Salmonella works by invading the small intestines. The inflammation resulting from the damaged intestinal cells causes water and electrolytes to be lost from the gut, thus causing diarrhea.
Normally this illness is not lethal, if medical attention is sought quickly. The cause of death in the teenager was blood poisoning from Salmonella enteritidis. How did this happen? As mentioned, this is an invasive pathogen. It has the capability to spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. Salmonellae, like other gram negative organisms, have a Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) moiety on the cell membrane. This LPS is called an endotoxin, because it is built into the structure of the bacteria and only released when the membrane is disrupted or lysed. Thus when the body’s immune reaction destroys these pathogens, endotoxins are released. They can cause fever, inflammation and shock, and the poor boy’s death as a consequence.
The treatment for this, and most diarrheal illnesses in general, is to rehydrate. Drink lots of water, because you need to replenish the loss of fluids. There is also a need to replenish loss of salts. Drinking the rice water from porridge is a good agent for this. You can take sports drinks, but don’t give them to young kids because the glucose to sodium ratio is not ideal. Get plenty of rest as possible. Other than that, there is little you can do other that to go to the toilet more often than usual.
If you have prolonged diarrhea, it is never a good idea to delay treatment. Go see a doctor! You don’t want to wait till you end up on a gurney in the A&E department, where you will stuck with needles to replenish your lost fluids. IV, is not very pleasant.
We are quite fortunate to have pasteurized milk in Singapore, so my guess is that the poultry was not well cooked or the eggs were contaminated. Prevention is very simple.
1) Make sure the eggs you buy are not cracked.
2) It is always a good idea to clean the exterior of the eggs.
3) Cook the eggs well.
4) If you have to use raw eggs, make sure they are pasteurized. Or use liquid eggs as a substitute.
5) Cook the meat well. Use a meat thermometer if you have to.
6) Keep your kitchen and equipment clean and sanitized.
7) Handwashing. Enough said.
Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. But please, not from Salmonella!