Salmonella is a very unpleasant infection but not usually fatal. Even the Mail has to admit that the three deaths linked to this current wave of wet poo washing over the cities of England weren’t directly attributed to the nasty little gut-emptier.
If you catch this one, you probably won’t die but you’ll spend a week wanting to. You’ll feel as though Dyno-Rod have been letting their apprentices practise on you.
It’s not hard to track its source because it tends to start throwing out your neatly stored gut contents and redecorating within about six hours of moving in. So what and where did you eat in the last six hours or so? When you have thirty people suffering the double deluge at the same time, it’s fairly easy to find the common factor.
Which they have. Several common factors. Two restaurants and a hospital, so far. Since these cases all came up (sorry) at once, what they’ll be looking for next is a common supplier for all those outlets (ahem).
It hasn’t ‘spread’ at all. The cases are from a batch of food, most likely chicken and most likely imported since most big UK producers vaccinate their birds against Salmonella and check the vaccine has worked. The one to watch out for in chicken is Campylobacter – it gets into the meat, not just on the surface. It’s far nastier than Salmonella but fortunately both are killed by cooking. As long as every part of the meat, right through, gets above 80C, it’s fine. Note that freezing is never a reliable way to kill bacteria, and freeze-drying is in fact one of the best ways to store them long term. Heat will kill them, cold inconveniences them.
The bigger risk with these beasties (Salmonella especially since it’s mostly surface contamination) is handling the raw meat and then handling salad. Get the bugs on the salad and there’ll be no heat treatment. Nobody is going to buy boiled lettuce.
When you have a central distribution system with a supplier sending stock all over the place, this is going to happen from time to time. Sure, food gets tested in microbiology labs but here’s the thing – it can take four days to declare a sample clean, and if it has Salmonella in it, it can still take two days to find it. That’s why you see product recalls. By the time the lab results come back, the shipment has gone out.
Also, the lab will be sent a chicken (or anything else) from a huge batch and will test 25g of that sample. It is quite possible that there are no Salmonella in the test sample but plenty on the rest of the batch! Add to that, Salmonella grows. If there is a refrigeration problem it will grow faster. So a sample which tested clean might only have a little contamination, but that little contamination can grow into an army of gut-hating rabid little sausages. Salmonella is pretty feeble in low numbers. It has to arrive in the thousands at one time or the resident bacteria in the gut kick its ass.
The report is an overhyped scare story. This is Salmonella, not Ebola. It’s going to make you into a double-ended fountain of foulness for about a week. It is not going to dissolve you from the inside. Most people need no treatment at all, just keep getting loads of fluids to replace the stuff coming out. Oh, and apples. Eat apples. They won’t make you completely Salmonella-proof but you’ll have to get a far bigger dose than someone who thinks apples are what grannies and old farts eat. Not too many apples mind, too many of those can give you the squits too. At least with apples, it only comes out of one end.
One thing worth knowing if there is a Salmonella problem in your area is that a very good way to keep them viable long-term is to mix them with dessicated coconut. So avoid things made with dessicated coconut when Salmonella is on the prowl.
Well, this is an early posting because it’s Smoky-Drinky night and I’m off out. Co-op has the Singleton of Dufftown on special offer at £23, and I was paid today, so the outcome is inevitable. Besides, I haven’t been to Smoky-Drinky in a while so it calls for something a bit better than the usual stuff.
One last note on Salmonella. They aren’t green and they don’t have legs. They are sausage-shaped though.
Oh, and they have never, ever been found in whisky. Right, I’m off before the Co-Op runs out of cheap single malt.