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Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli are just a few of the many foodborne illnesses pests like rodents, flies, cockroaches, and stored product pests such as beetles and Indian meal moths are capable of spreading. Foodborne illnesses are spread by pests as they pick up germs crawling across sewage, garbage, decaying matter and other filth, and then transfer these germs – along with their shed skins and fecal droppings – onto foods and food surfaces. Whether in food facilities or your own pantry, food can become contaminated at any point.
Stomach pain, severe stomach cramps and tenderness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting are all symptoms of foodborne illnesses (gastroenteritis). Some people can experience severe diarrhea, which can cause dehydration and may require hospitalization. In rare cases, the bacteria can spread to the blood stream and cause life-threatening infections.
Foodborne illness often improves on its own within 48 hours, but be sure to rest and drink plenty of liquids. Anti-diarrheal medications should be avoided because they may slow elimination of organisms or toxins from your system. Call your doctor if you think you have a foodborne illness and your symptoms have lasted longer than two or three days.
Regularly cleaning food preparation areas and keeping pests from getting inside are essential to preventing foodborne illnesses. Follow these tips:
- Clean frequently to keep your home free of crumbs and other debris, and avoid letting dirty dishes pile up in the sink
- Use disinfectant to wipe down counters and other surfaces after meal prep
- Remove trash regularly and store it in a sealed receptacle outdoors
- Transfer foods into sturdy, sealed containers, throwing away any foods that have passed their expiration dates
- Check for leaking pipes and moisture sources
- Partner with a licensed pest control professional to treat or prevent infestations