Not all gastric flu caused by food poisoning

The article on food poisoning provided a comprehensive review on symptoms of food poisoning, its prevention and treatment (When can food poisoning kill?; Nov 19).

However, the public ought to be aware that not all gastric flu, or gastroenteritis, is caused by food poisoning.

Patients with gastroenteritis could get rid of the offending organisms, be it bacteria or virus, through their vomit and faeces.

Hence, family members or caretakers of patients with gastroenteritis could come in contact with the bacteria or virus when they attend to the patients.

As a gastroenterologist, I often see family members of patients with gastroenteritis contract the disease from the patients.

As a precaution, patients with gastroenteritis must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, after they pass motion.

Caretakers of the patients should also do so after they attend to the patients.

Quite often, I see a spouse or parent of patients with gastroenteritis admitted for the same illness, just when the patients are fit for discharge.

In addition to food hygiene, hand washing should be practised regularly among patients and their caretakers to prevent interpersonal transmission.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'Not all gastric flu caused by food poisoning'. Print Edition | Subscribe