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Watch Out for Food Poisoning in Winter!

Lachlan has come to Japan on a working holiday. On arriving home at his homestay family’s house, he finds his host mother, Akiko-san, starting to prepare the evening meal.

Watch Out for Food Poisoning in Winter!

Lachlan

Hello, Akiko-san, I’m home. Are you preparing the evening meal?

Akiko

Hello Lachlan, welcome home. Because tonight is rather cold, I thought I'd make a nabe (a hot-pot stew). What about helping me prepare the vegetables?

Lachlan

OK. First I'll gargle and wash my hands.

Akiko

Make sure to use soap and wash your hands thoroughly. In actual fact, the current winter season sees a lot of food poisoning cases. Thus, we really have to take care.

Lachlan

I see. I have the image of many cases of food poisoning occurring in summer; however, we have to be careful in winter as well.

Akiko

Yes, it is very easy for virus-caused food poisoning to occur in winter. In particular, there are many norovirus cases. These start to appear around November, and the number of cases then peaks in January and February.

Lachlan

There are many cases resulting from eating bivalve shellfish such as clams and oysters.

Akiko

That is correct. Within 24 to 48 hours, infected people begin to exhibit symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, high fevers, abdominal pains and diarrhea, etc. In that others can be infected by coming into contact with the vomit and bodily waste of norovirus cases, there are instances of mass infections occurring at hospitals and schools.

Lachlan

That is a rather sobering thought.

Akiko

In order to prevent such from happening, please pay close attention to gargling and washing your hands. In particular, care should be taken when washing hands prior to cooking. It is also important to make sure shellfish is sufficiently cooked.

Lachlan

I see.

Akiko-san then continues to discuss looking after your health during the winter months.

Akiko

Winter is a season for infections. I am not just talking about norovirus; we also have the spread of influenza. Thus, as part of our daily lives, it is important to take care to heighten the body's ability to resist. Lachlan, commencing next month are you going to take up the challenge of living alone? If you are, please make sure to get enough sleep and to eat a balanced diet.

Lachlan

Yes, I will. However, what should I do if I begin to feel unwell?

Akiko

If you feel uneasy about your health, the most important thing is to seek medical attention at a medical institution at the earliest opportunity.

Lachlan

That is easy to say, but I wonder if I would be able to clearly convey my symptoms to a doctor. Although my Japanese has improved greatly, when going to hospital I might feel a little nervous.

Akiko

If that’s the case, there are also websites that help you search for medical institutions that can cater for foreign languages. There are also contact desks that you can call for information. These resources have foreign language descriptions of treatment-flows when seeking treatment; we can look at them together later on.

Lachlan

That would be a great help! Thank you Akiko-san for everything you have told me!

Himawari (Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution Information) is a website that can be used to search for medical institutions that have the ability to cater for patients in foreign languages.
http://www.himawari.metro.tokyo.jp/qq/qq13enmnlt.asp

International Medical Information Center (AMDA) (a specified non-profit corporation)
- Telephone consultations
http://eng.amda-imic.com/modules/activity/index.php?content_id=2
- Treatment flows, diagnosis interview sheets, etc.
http://eng.amda-imic.com/modules/useful/index.php?content_id=1