Guide Infectious disease and food poisoning

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2. Preventing spread of food poisoning

People suffer from diarrhoea (with or without vomiting) for a number of different reasons. The causes we're concerned about are usually from bacteria (such as salmonella or campylobacter), parasites (such as cryptosporidium or giardia) and viruses (such as Norovirus).

The bacteria, parasites and viruses that cause diarrhoea and vomiting may be spread by :

  • a sufferer to other people through close contact
  • infected food
  • contaminated surfaces
  • the 'environment', such as untreated water
  • animals

General advice

Personal hygiene

Pay particular attention to your personal hygiene during and after your illness. You can still be carrying the germ for some weeks after your symptoms have finished.

  • Hand washing

    Wash and dry hands regularly using soap (preferably a liquid soap) and your own towel. Use the wash hand basin and not the kitchen sink.

  • After using the toilet

    1. Wash and dry hands using the wash hand basin, not the kitchen sink.

    2. Keep a separate towel that is for your use only.

    3. Wipe off the toilet seat, toilet handle, taps, with a bathroom disinfectant.

    4. If there is more than one toilet, keep one toilet for use only by the sick person.

    5. Soiled linen and underwear, should NOT be washed or rinsed in the kitchen sink. If using a washing machine, use the hot cycle.

Preparation of food

If you do not need to handle or prepare food, then you should avoid doing so until 48 hours after you have fully recovered. If you have no choice but to handle or prepare food, then it is essential that you wash and dry your hands using soap and a separate towel before you start.

Contact with other people

Tell anyone nursing you or sharing your home that you are suffering with diarrhoea and tell them about these guidelines.

You should avoid contact with other people until at least 48 hours after you are fully recovered. Affected children should not go to school or nursery or play with others until at least 48 hours after full recovery.

Those with suspected or confirmed food poisoning or food borne diseases

If you have provided a faecal sample, it will be analysed at the laboratory, and they will contact the environmental health if you have certain food poisoning infections. Environmental health staff will often contact people suffering from suspected or confirmed food poisoning or food borne illnesses to:

  • give advice on how to prevent spreading the infection to others

  • find out where they caught the illness