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The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has launched a new food-related illness website where the public can report illnesses that may be related to food they consumed at home, in a restaurant or elsewhere.
The site, igotsick.health.utah.gov, was developed to make it faster and easier for the general public to securely notify Utah public health professionals of 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 Allyn Nakashima, state epidemiologist.
The web-based reporting system is designed to capture data from anyone who is ill and experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness, since not everyone who becomes sick chooses to see a doctor. All information submitted by users is confidential and will automatically be sent to the appropriate local health department. The information will be used by public health to determine whether food caused the reported illness and where the food may have originated. The sooner public health can receive the information and the more people they hear from, the more likely it is public health is to detect an outbreak, launch an investigation and stop it from spreading.
At igotsick.health.utah.gov, users can watch a brief video showing how the system works and 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. The website can be used whether a person lives in Utah, visited Utah, or traveled through Utah before getting sick. Health care providers who see patients with complaints of diarrhea and vomiting are encouraged to refer them to this website.
Foodborne illnesses can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne microorganisms cause 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year
Food can become contaminated when it is undercooked, improperly washed or accidentally contaminated during harvesting or preparation. Contamination can happen before food reaches a grocery store right up until serving time. 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 including 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.