Food poisoning and infectious diseases

What to do if feel you are suffering from food poisoning

If you feel that you are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning you should seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible. Once food poisoning symptoms have subsided it is safe to return to work. However, people dealing with food must not return to work until 48 hours after the first normal stool. Certain infections may require medical clearance before returning to work. It is advisable that people dealing with children under 5, the elderly or those working with people who may find it difficult to implement good standards of personal hygiene should not return to work until 48 hours after the first normal stool.

When will Harlow Council Environmental Health Services become involved?

Environmental Health Services has a responsibility for investigating all cases of food poisoning, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. Coli 0157. Hospital laboratories or G.P’s routinely refer cases to us to investigate. The investigation is to:

  • try to establish where the patient contracted the infection
  • prevent any further spread of the infection

How does Environmental Health Services investigate infectious diseases?

All patients suffering from food poisoning are sent advice notes about their infection and how it may have been acquired. Together with a questionnaire asking about foods consumed; and activities prior to the start of their illness as well as their occupation, to determine whether they are likely to pass the infection on to others in the course of their work. Foodborne infections may often be contracted in the home or from travel abroad. If there is any indication that a case has arisen from a food business within Harlow then Environmental Health Services will carry out further investigations.

The Harlow Council sends a report of infectious disease notifications received each week to the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) in London. The CDSC collate details of notifications received from other local authorities, enabling them to monitor trends on a local and national basis.