Does Your Patient Have a Foodborne Disease?

David W.K. Acheson, MD, FRCP


April 01, 2002

In This Article


No discussion of foodborne disease is complete without a word about prevention. Upon diagnosing a foodborne disease, the physician has a responsibility both to the patient and to public health. It is important to notify local health authorities in the case of reportable diseases, which vary from state to state. Newer techniques, such as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, allow public health departments to determine outbreaks much earlier than in the past and to alert the public to infected food sources.

It is also important to instruct infected patients to be careful about spreading the infection to others both at home and at work. It is vital to make high-risk patients aware of the dangers of foods at risk of contamination with foodborne microbes and of the need to be careful with regard to cross-contamination in the kitchen. High-risk patients include the elderly and the immunocompromised as well as pregnant women with regard to L monocytogenes and T gondii.