Food Poisoning Expert, or Idiot?

No, I'm not really an expert, I just play one on the radio. But what I can tell you from personal experience is; that food poisoning is no laughing matter!

Well, okay, I can laugh about it now, but while it was going on, I assure you there was no laughter! There was, however, a lot of time spent in the bathroom, trying to decide which body part should be closest to the porcelain throne.

Why do you know so much about food poisoning?

I have been treated by my doctor for three different bouts of food-related illness; The first was Campylobacter enteritis, (medical and health professionals often shorten the name to the cutesy "Campy" for inexplicable reasons, because believe you me, the results are anything but cute!).

E.coli was number 2 (literally), and the last, and worst, was Salmonella. I even asked my doctor, at that appointment, if it was possible to have a predisposition to developing food poisoning. He didn't think so, but according to a new study some people are protected by their genetics against developing certain food-borne illnesses. Lucky them!

The Salmonella was the one that landed me in the hospital emergency room where I was misdiagnosed, (by a 12-year-old intern in a big hurry! Well, he looked like he was 12!) sent home with the wrong medication, and then informed by my own doctor that I indeed had Salmonella and needed to get on the correct meds ASAP!

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Besides your doctor, who else do you need to chat with?

Each time you have a confirmed diagnosis of food-borne illness, you end up on the phone with your state health department answering about 15 minutes' worth of questions as they try to determine how you were poisoned. Is it part of a widespread food product contamination or a smaller unknown event or incident?

The first two times it was impossible to know for sure. It is very hard to track, most of the time, because of underreporting, the fact that these pathogens can also be spread from person-to-person, through water, and many of them have yet to be identified.

How did you find out it was Salmonella?

The Salmonella was a breeze to track down with my Health department buddy! After my illness, I had read about a certain company's processed salami causing an outbreak of this very special bug.

Believe it or not, I still had the remainder of that packaged product in my fridge. The Salmonella apparently was contained in the peppercorns which dotted the deli delight. (Hey I'm Italian- I love salami!) Mystery solved!

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Then all you'll need to get the party going is a barbecue Grill, cold beverages with umbrellas, and some water wings.

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