Organ Transplant Recipients
If you've had an organ transplant, you may be taking immunosuppressants. These drugs keep the immune system in check so your body won't "attack" the new organ and cause rejection. At the same time, they weaken your normal immune response and leave you at higher risk of infections, like foodborne illness.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers this info:
- Because you are a transplant recipient, you are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die should you contract a foodborne illness.
- To avoid contracting a foodborne illness, you must be especially vigilant when handling, preparing, and consuming foods.
More than 2,300 types of Salmonella bacteria are on the list of foodborne illness risks for you as a transplant patient, says the USDA. Salmonella symptoms can include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, chills, fever, and/or headache, usually appear 8 to 72 hours after eating and may last four to seven days. "A more severe illness may result if the infection spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream. Without treatment, death may result," the USDA explains.
The good news is there are powerful food safety precautions you can take.
Topping the USDA list of foods to avoid are raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. What can you do specifically to eliminate the risk of Salmonella in eggs? Here's the USDA advice:
- Use pasteurized eggs/egg products when preparing recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs. (Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs offer you Salmonella-free assurance even when using eggs raw.)
- When eating out, ask if pasteurized eggs were used. Today, many restaurants offer fresh menu items made with Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs. Not sure? Just ask.
For more tips on food safety if you have an organ transplant, please see the USDA publication, Food Safety for Transplant Recipients.