The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: What Really Is Food Poisoning?

They had booked into the hotel in downtown and, for all purposes, expected the best service delivery per the hotel's standard.

And if at the time they were checking into the hotel someone had told them they would be wheeled into ambulances hours later with acute running stomach and nausea, these clients would have laughed it off and sipped on from their glasses of the frothy stuff.

But boarding ambulances indeed, they did. They did it with the kind of experiences they might not want to talk about for long.

It all started when customers at a city hotel started feeling unusualness in their metabolism. One person is okay, but when 16, 17, 18... people begin to turn the toilet into a lounge, it calls for emergency. Some hotel staffers were in the same beat up shape, keeping more appointment with the toilet than with customers calling for buffet.

Food poisoning it was, according to doctors at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, who attended to the 21 patients admitted to the facility.

Understanding food poisoning

But what really is food poisoning in the broader sense of the word?

To many people, food poisoning is when one laces malicious, virulent or deadly substance into consumable. In medical terms, it is generalised as 'gastrointestinal disorder'.

Dr Emmanuel Musabeyezu, a specialist physician and pulmonologist at King Faisal Hospital, says food poisoning can be the effect on metabolism following consummation of contaminated food.

The term is given more credence when a group of people eat the same contaminated food. It normally occurs after eating at school canteens, large social gatherings or hotels.

Experts say food poisoning occurs when you swallow food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs.

The commonest symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. The signs usually occur within 48 hours after consumption of contaminated food or drink.

There are two common groups of food poisoning; biological and chemical food poisoning.

According to Dr Musabeyezu, the former occurs when food is contaminated through handling in unhygienic manner, for instance, using dirty hands to prepare food. High risk cases include eating at gatherings such as parties.

Food is contaminated in poor sanitation. This happens when the people preparing the food do not wash their hands after using washrooms or have infections that can cause contamination.

When packaged food is stored at the wrong temperature, it also promotes contamination.

Chemical food poisoning happens through consuming dangerous chemicals, especially in water, Dr Musabeyezu, who also heads the Quality Assurance Division at King Faisal Hospital, said.

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