foodborne intoxication, results from improperly canned or preserved foods of low acid
content in which the causative agent grows and produces the toxin. Botulism is a
relatively rare disease, but it has a high mortality rate when contracted. It is prevented
by using canned and preserved foods only from approved sources.
(2) Chemical intoxication occurs when chemical contaminants enter the
food. Chemical intoxication from metal contamination usually occurs when acid foods
are prepared or stored in containers made of corrosive (usually plated) metal. The
metallic salts formed by the reaction of the food with the metal leach into the food,
causing chemical intoxication. This type of "poisoning" may be prevented by educating
food service personnel in the proper storage and preparation of foods.
Foodborne infections may be either bacterial or parasitic.
(a) Several common bacterial infections are salmonellosis (caused by
Salmonella bacteria), Clostridium perfringens infection, and bacillary dysentery
(shigellasis) caused by bacteria of the genus Shigella. Bacterial infections are caused
by contaminating food (usually by unsanitary food practices) and allowing it to remain at
temperatures favorable to bacterial growth. To prevent these diseases, food service
personnel must practice strict sanitation in the handling of food, cleaning of food serving
equipment, and storage of food at proper temperatures. The proper training of the
individual soldier in the care and cleaning of his mess equipment plays an important role
in preventing these diseases.
(b) There are three important parasitic infections of food--amoebic
dysentery, trichinosis, and tapeworm. The former is caused by contamination of food or
water with parasites (amoeba) found in infected human feces. Preventive measures are
the same as for bacterial infections (see also para b below). The latter two diseases are
caused by eating meat in which the living cysts of the Trichinella nematode (principally
in pork) or tapeworm (in pork, beef, or fish) are present. Both may be effectively
prevented by thoroughly cooking all meat.
b. Waterborne Diseases. These diseases include typhoid fever, paratyphoid
fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, amoebic dysentery, and infectious hepatitis. They
may be acquired from drinking contaminated water. Food which has been prepared
with such water and which has not been cooked sufficiently to kill the organisms will
also cause these diseases. Prevention of these diseases depends upon the use of only
potable water supplies for drinking and cooking and upon proper unit and individual
water purification procedures when potable water supplies are not available.
SUPPORTIVE PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
Unit-level preventive medicine, as we have seen, is accomplished by personnel
whose qualifications do not exceed those of a company aidman or a field sanitation
team. From time to time, situations may arise which require a higher level of
professional or technical assistance to the unit commander. Such assistance is referred
to as supportive preventive medicine.