BOUNTIFUL — The Utah Department of Health has launched a food-related illness website, igotsick.health.utah.gov, and is encouraging everyone to self-report there if they think they have an illness related to food they consumed at home, in a restaurant, at a group gathering, etc.
The department hopes to make it faster and easier for the general public to securely notify Utah doctors and researchers about potential foodborne illnesses and relevant exposures.
“Rapid detection of foodborne illnesses and identifying common sources are essential to timely investigation and reducing foodborne outbreaks,” said Dr. Allyn Nakashima, state epidemiologist, in a press release. The web-based reporting system is designed to capture data from anyone who is ill and experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness, not just those who see a doctor.
The new site includes a brief video showing how the system works and lets you complete a form indicating where food was consumed, what was eaten, and other potential high-risk exposures during the time period just before becoming ill. It’s for people who live in Utah, have visited Utah or traveled through Utah before getting sick. Patients with complaints of diarrhea and vomiting are particularly encouraged to use the site.
Foodborne microorganisms cause 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The press release further states that “food can become contaminated when it is undercooked, improperly washed, or accidentally contaminated during harvesting or preparation. It can contain bacteria, viruses, or toxins. Contamination can happen before food reaches a grocery store right up until serving time. And, it’s possible for food to make a person sick even if it looks or tastes just fine.”
“Foodborne bacteria, viruses, and toxins can cause infections in the stomach and intestines that can lead to symptoms that include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and fever. Sometimes, foodborne illnesses can have more serious complications such as kidney failure, reactive arthritis (RA), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sepsis (infection of the blood). They can be expensive if you have to miss work, school, or need to stay in the hospital.”