Stomach flu? Food poisoning? Or bad spinach?

It seems like we’ve got a host of bugs flitting around town lately – but are they viral or bacterial? Food borne, or transmitted through other methods? Lurking in a package of spinach that can’t be washed clean – or having a field day on my kitchen counter?

I didn’t much care – after all a roiling gut is just a roiling gut, right? – until it happened to ME. But now that I’m finally able to stagger over to a computer without doubling over, well – I want ANSWERS.

My judicious consultation this evening with Doctor Google informed me that there really is no such thing as ‘stomach flu’ – instead, you’re typically dealing with one or two food or human-transmitted viruses that can incubate up to 48 hours before making their presence known. So it’s probably pretty unlikely that the steam table with food present for an indeterminate time (not to mention the bowl of greens that may or may not have contained spinach) I consumed mere minutes before breaking out with, um, pretty definitive symptoms was responsible, right?

But still…

…trying to track down my food consumption over the last week has me casting a skeptical eye at everything, determined to thoroughly scrub my kitchen down from top to bottom (once I fully recover, that is), and washing my hands every other minute with anti-bacterial soap.

The first clue? The kids are fine – which means the crockpot as culprit gets ruled out, I need not feel guilty about filling them with fast food this week (due to a heavy evening meeting schedule) instead of home cooked meals lovingly prepared with my own two hands and our overall hygeine habits must be okay if they managed to escape the Killer Bugs that were refusing to concede defeat despite multiple doses of Imodium.

But unfortunately, the search stalls here. Was it the enchilada plate Monday night at a favorite local chain? (Please say no.) The jailhouse vittles served up while I was doing a Good Deed? Or merely an expired yogurt at work I failed to check the date on? Did I shake one too many of the wrong hands at all of those evening meetings? Or fail to wash my own hands after putting the beef in the crockpot – where it then cooked for hours, killing all available bugs?

Finally – to complicate matters, there’s the fact I was having spiky, high fevers. Symptoms that seemed to point at the ‘flu’ part of stomach flu. And hearing through the grapevine of similar affected PDXers – people who probably hadn’t eaten at the same places I had, or traveled in the same circles.

So – is there really a real live stomach flu sweeping PDX? Are we all just simutaneously getting lax about our food hygeine? Or is this a case of cooks slipping spinach past unsuspecting diners – with disasterous results?

You tell me… And while you’re at it, tell me about your own personal food ‘thanks, but no thanks…’ (I now have steam table stuff on my list, thanks to the wise words of a friend.)

10 Comments so far

  1. Josh Bancroft (unregistered) on September 17th, 2006 @ 9:24 pm

    Reminds me of the “Norovirus Outbreak 2006!!1!” news headlines a while back. Norovirus is simply the clinical name for the organism that causes the common “stomach flu”.


  2. Jack Bog (unregistered) on September 17th, 2006 @ 9:36 pm

    We had two down hard with it at our place last week — and one mildly hurting (that’d be me).


  3. Lyza (unregistered) on September 17th, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

    Betsy! I too have been really sick to my stomach–perhaps something going around at work? I have also been obsessively considering everything I’ve eaten all work. So far, I’ve felt rather poorly for 4 days this week…


  4. Daryle (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 7:31 am

    My partner was sick for 48 hours over labor day weekend (while we were on vacation…that was fun!) We never figured out if it was something she ate or what. I did not get it.


  5. Russ (unregistered) on September 19th, 2006 @ 10:51 am

    Popeye lied.


  6. jj (unregistered) on September 19th, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

    we were hit last week while in DC. my 3 year old, then my 6 month old, and then the day we came back, my husband got it. somehow, miraculously, it skipped me. definitely something going around though.


  7. Betsy (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 7:48 am

    I spoke too soon, alas – both kids woke up with stomach aches this morning; it’s Mylanta for all….!


  8. bob (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

    ve been suffering from gas cramps headache and loose blowouts for a few days also dizzinesss and some fatigue for a few days here in so cal. im tired of it .


  9. SZ (unregistered) on September 27th, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    Interesting blog….I was searching for something like this.

    My 10 year old son started throwing up on Saturday. Hubby and I started on Monday. It’s now Wednesday and we are all still very weak. Luckily we are able to hold down bland food now. But we have no energy. Hubby and I have both lost 7 pounds, son has lost 4.

    It is undoubtedly a vicious stomach bug going around. The doctor said the diarrhea could last 7-10 days!! YIKES!! I wouldn’t wish this virus on my worst enemy.

    Had to throw in my 2 cents…..we’re in Georgia, but the way.


  10. Dee (unregistered) on October 7th, 2006 @ 2:17 am

    Well, I’m In London, UK. Wondering what the heck is going on. I thought we had past all this : two years ago my son, then about 18 months old, and myself both caught the norovirus which only lasted about 24 hours. It seems it has made it’s way round the world and back again since and I have caught a new strain. The initial strain was ONLY a 24 hour virus and made it’s way round the UK like wildfire, hitting the cities particularly. Visiting the doctor yesterday I was informed that the new strain can last up to a week, usually 1-4 days. The thing is I have ll the symptoms: vomiting (controlled now by tablets), stoach cramps, aching body and the feeling of being totally drained. But NO diarhoea. In fact I think I’m bunged up. And my son hasn’t got it at all…. yet. Which like the original writer leads me to wonder if I have a virus or a bacterial thing going on?



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