I Am A Second Generation Food-Borne Illness Victim.

I am a second generation food-borne illness victim. Many will wonder what is this guy talking about?!? But that’s correct, I AM A SECOND GENERATION FOOD-BORNE ILLNESS VICTIM.

Let me explain.

My father, a septuagenerian who still drives himself around the busy roads of Ibadan without any hassles, once told me of his experience with food-borne illness in the mid-summer of 1964 while living in England as a young man.

He had visited some Nigerian friends in Holloway, North London that fateful day and in order to beat the feeling of home sickness they conjured up a meal of Egusi soup with Chicken and Ground Rice for lunch using whatever substitute ingredient they could lay their hands on to make the Egusi as original as possible. Savoy Spinach for Nigerian Efò, milled Gourd Seed for Egusi, etc etc.

After lunch, they tucked into some drinks and chatted off about Akintola and Awolowo and Western Region politics back home. Few hours after, his travails began. He recalled vividly that it started with stomach ache, nausea and repeated trips to the toilet to loose his bowels which was characterized by watery stools. By the third or fourth time that he went to the toilet, he collapsed right there. His mates promptly called the GP who examined him and called in the ambulance. He was whisked off by ambulance to Western Hospital, Seagrave Road, Fulham where he was admitted and ended up staying for four days receiving various treatment before being finally discharged. The chicken he ate with his mates was fingered as the likely culprit by the medical team. To him its a mystery why he was the sole victim of a meal he shared with others, to me from a food safety point of view it is not an impossibility and I will put up a post that looks into this kind of scenario at some future date.

Now fast forward almost 40 years and in 2003 I paid a visit to a cousin of mine and his family while I was living in Sango-Ota at the outskirts of Lagos. After the social visit, my cousin’s wife, who had a poultry at their backyard, gave me a gift of fresh eggs harvested directly from her poultry. When I got home I observed that some of the eggs were smeared with feaces from the birds which is consistent with most eggs from subsistent poultries in our part of the world but I took no action about it. Next day I proceeded to treat myself to boiled fresh eggs from my cousins poultry for breakfast and I believe in the midst of this preparation, one way or the other I must have cross-contaminated my meal with deadly salmonella bacteria from the birds poo-poo on the shell of the eggs and that was it. Barely six hours later my whole world seemed to turn upside down with severe cramps, nausea, watery stools, and physical weakness. Being a food technologist, albeit a careless one at that instance, I immediately understood what was going on…SALMONELLOSIS!!! I only needed to join the dots from the poo-poo on the eggs to my hastiness in preparing breakfast to know the culprit behind my illness. But in my own case there was no ambulance to call and so I had to find my way to the hospital by myself where I was admitted and ended up staying 2 days before I was well enough to be discharged.

Now my goal is to ensure things stay this way in my genealogy. There shall be no third generation food-borne illness victim in my lineage. I hope.

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