'Barbecue bug' cases rise by 20%

Source of Article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/8174203.stm

There has been a big increase in the amount of food poisoning and health problems in Scotland caused by the campylobacter bacteria.

Health Protection Scotland said campylobacter poisonings had increased by at least a fifth this year.

More than 3,000 cases have already been reported in 2009, compared with 2,546 during the same period last year.

Campylobacter is known as the barbecue bug because it can be caught from poorly-cooked food.

It is carried by animals, especially poultry.

Health Protection Scotland said the number of cases this year was the highest in the first 28 weeks of any year since 2000.

The increase has been seen across most Scottish mainland NHS board areas.

There were 146 reports of campylobacter in Ayrshire and Arran during the first 28 weeks of 2008, but problems with the reporting of laboratory data meant only six cases had been confirmed this year.

The actual number of cases in Scotland was therefore even higher than the 3,033 which had been officially recorded, the public health body added.

Campylobacter is one of the most common forms of food poisoning. Symptoms include severe diarrhoea, cramps and fever.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has issued cooking tips aimed as reducing cases of food poisoning.

Safety tips

They included defrosting meats thoroughly before barbecuing them, keeping raw and cooked foods separate and cooking poultry, burgers, sausages and other meats until there are no pink bits in the middle and the juices run clear.

Public health consultant Doctor Michelle Gillies said: "Barbecues and picnics are great in the summer but what we want to reiterate is that a few safety precautions will ensure everyone stays healthy and happy.

"Barbecues, in particular, can result in people undercooking food, raw meat and ready to eat foodstuffs not being kept separate, food not being thoroughly defrosted and cooking utensils being used for raw and cooked foods.

She added: "If people follow our tips they can enjoy their barbecues and picnics without worrying about sickness and diarrhoea a few days later."




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