What Do You Do if You Suspect Foodborne Illness

  • Call or see a medical professional. Physicians and laboratories are responsible for contacting the appropriate health department to report diagnosis of foodborne illness. However, most cases of food-borne illness aren't diagnosed; the symptoms simply are treated to relieve discomfort.
  • Report the incident to your local health department as soon as possible if the suspected food came from a public place or large gathering-a restaurant, sidewalk vendor, employee cafeteria, company picnic, or grocery store, among others.
  • If you are reporting the incident, try to preserve the suspected food. Ask authorities for instructions for packaging and storing the food until it can be collected by them. If you can, keep the packaging; it identifies where the product was produced. Mark it with a warning label so no one consumes it.

If you suspect that a food has been contaminated by a household chemical:

  • Check the label for an antidote or a remedy. Likely you'll find an "800 or other toll-free" number for first-aid advice, too. Follow the advice.
  • Call the national hotline to reach a poison control center: 1-800-222-1222. This number will automatically link you to the closest poison control center. Another option: Contact your local health department or use a local poison control center number. As a precaution, post their phone numbers by your telephone. You'll have them handy if needed.

destroys Giardia in water; chlorine may not if the chlorine concentration isn't high enough. Good handwashing habits are essential to its control. If you travel or camp, only drink from a safe water supply, and wash and peel produce before eating it.

What if there's a giardiasis outbreak in your child's day-care center? If it continues despite control efforts, children with or without symptoms might be screened and perhaps treated. If your child has symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea), contact your healthcare provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't advise treatment for children diagnosed with giardiasis who don't have diarrhea—unless poor appetite, weight loss, or fatigue are observed.

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