What is causing these infections?
Bacteria called Yersinia enterocolitica live in pigs and other animals. Animals or animal waste can spread the germ to water, milk, food, or hands. In Georgia, small children became sick from being in the kitchen while raw chitterlings, commonly called chitlins, (pig intestines) were being cleaned.
How is the germ spread?
The germ is spread by hands or by eating or drinking contaminated food, milk or water. Unlike most germs, this germ grows well in the cold and can grow and spread in the refrigerator. Cooked chitterlings are safe to eat, but cleaning raw chitterlings can pass the germ from hands to things around the kitchen and to small children or babies.
Who is getting sick?
Most of these infections occur in children less than five years old, especially babies less than two years old.
What are the symptoms?
- stomach pains
Symptoms usually start within 3 to 7 days after contact with the germ in raw chitterlings. Younger children and babies sometimes have severe, bloody diarrhea. Though the illness rarely causes death, some children need to stay in the hospital. Severe symptoms or blood infections are treated with antibiotics. Older children and adults may experience appendicitis-like stomach pain.
How can these infections be prevented?
Boil chitterlings in water for 5 minutes BEFORE cleaning – This boiling helps to kill germs so they can't spread around the kitchen and to children. While boiling the chitterlings, clean the sink and any places touched by raw chitterlings or their juice with soap and hot water. Then clean the chitterlings after boiling for 5 minutes and follow with complete cooking, just as usual. Boiling for 5 minutes makes cleaning easier and faster ,does NOT change the taste and reduces the fat content!.
Clean up carefully when cooking chitterlings – Anything that touches the raw chitterlings, their juice, or even the outside of the bucket can have the germs on it.
Wrap the bucket in plastic when thawing chitterlings in the refrigerator.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water to remove germs after cleaning chitterlings and before touching a child or anything to be used by a child.
Keep children OUT of the kitchen, until the chitterlings are boiled and the kitchen is thoroughly cleaned.
Wrap all waste promptly and throw away into an outside garbage can.
Clean kitchen with soap and water. After cleaning kitchen, disinfect kitchen with a clean towel and a bleach solution ( 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water).
Run the dishwasher on hot cycle, clean all pots, pans, lids, and utensils,
Clean all dishrags or cloths used in clean-up.
Cooked chitterlings must not touch anywhere raw chitterlings touched, unless the area has been cleaned and disinfected.