STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — From bad food preparation skills to poor hygiene, Highland Lakes residents might be making themselves sicker than usual this season.
“We have been seeing a lot more gastro-intestinal illnesses,” said Burnet County Health Authority Dr. Juliette Madrigal Dersch. “It looks like it’s mostly viral.”
The symptoms primarily involve diarrhea but can include vomiting, fever, and lethargy.
Along with the viral strain, health care workers have reported some bacterial strains, too.
These cases typically involve cross-contamination of utensils and cooking surfaces, Madrigal Dersch said.
“With food handling, they need to make sure they’re not contaminating their food prep area, going from pre-cooked food to post-cooked food,” she said. “Anything that’s not cooked should be on a different cutting board.”
Whether viral or bacterial, individuals should arm themselves with the most potent tool to fight such infections.
“Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing,” Madrigal Dersch emphasized. “You should wash your hands for 20 seconds. The amount of time it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice.
“Most people wash their hands for five seconds,” she added. “If you don’t have soap, it actually makes it worse.”
Hand sanitizers, in lieu of soap and water, can also reduce the risk of infection.
Once infected, sufferers can find faster relief with the following tips:
• increase fluids to compensate for fluid loss;
• consider a BRAT (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast) diet while recovering;
• and avoid milk products for 48 hours (due to inability to properly digest lactose).
“Of course, if they’re running a fever that lasts for more than three days or have bloody diarrhea then you need to see your doctor,” she said.