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What To Expect After Filing a Food or Water borne Illness Complaint

If you suspect you have become ill from eating or swimming at a permitted establishment within Maricopa County, and have filed a complaint, then you will receive a call from the Environmental Related Illness (ERI) program. A member of the ERI program will contact you in order to interview you. The purpose of the interview is to gather more information about your exposures and symptoms. A typical interview takes approximately 15 minutes. Please be prepared to answer questions such as:
  • background information like birth date and address
  • the food items consumed at the meal in question
  • how many people were at the meal with you, and if they are ill
  • your symptoms and when they started and stopped
  • your recent exposures to zoos, farms, and any recent swimming
  • any recent large food gatherings like banquets or pot lucks
  • your 3-day food history

It is important to note most viruses, bacteria and protozoa take time to make you sick, so it is likely not your last meal that is making you so ill. In fact, most pathogens require at least 12-24 hours after ingestion to make you feel sick. This is why your 3 day food history is part of the interview.

An outbreak is defined as two or more unrelated cases sharing a common exposure. So if several members within the same family that live together file separate complaints against the same establishment, they will be considered one complaint. One complaint will place an establishment under a two week surveillance period. If an additional food or water borne illness complaint is received from an unrelated person to the first complaint within this two week surveillance period, an outbreak may be established and the ERI team may conduct an investigation. If a complainant has been diagnosed with a reportable illness, the ERI team may conduct an investigation.

The 2 most common situations where the ERI team may conduct an investigation include: an outbreak or a diagnosis of a reportable illness.