Food Borne Illness
Food Borne Illness
Foodborne illness (also foodborne disease and colloquially referred to as food poisoning) is any illness resulting from the spoilage of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as toxins such as poisonous mushrooms and various species of beans that have not been boiled for at least 10 minutes.
Symptoms vary depending on the cause, and are described below in this article. A few broad generalizations can be made. For contaminants requiring an incubation period, symptoms may not manifest for hours to days, depending on the cause and on quantity of consumption. Longer incubation periods tend to cause sufferers to not associate the symptoms with the item consumed, so they may misattribute the symptoms to gastroenteritis, for example.
Causes of Food Poisoning:
Many different disease-causing germs can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections.
- Researchers have identified more than 250 foodborne diseases.
- Most of them are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
- Harmful toxins and chemicals also can contaminate foods and cause foodborne illness.
Some Common Foodborne Germs:
The top five germs that cause illnesses from food eaten in the United States are:
- Clostridium perfringens
- Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
Many microbes can spread in more than one way, so it may not be immediately evident that a disease is foodborne. The distinction matters, because public health authorities need to know how a particular disease is spreading to take the appropriate steps to stop it. For example, infections with Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) can be acquired through contaminated food, contaminated drinking water, contaminated swimming water, and from toddler to toddler at a day care center. Depending on which means of spread cause a case, the measures to stop other cases from occurring could range from removing contaminated food from stores, chlorinating a swimming pool, or closing a child day care center.
The most common foodborne infections are caused by three bacteria -- Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7 -- and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, better known as Norwalk-like virus:
Campylobacter- Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the world. The bacteria live in the intestines of healthy birds, and most raw poultry meat has Campylobacter on it. Eating undercooked chicken, or other food that has been contaminated with juices dripping from raw chicken is the most frequent source of this infection.
Salmonella- Salmonella is widespread in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals. People can acquire the bacteria via a variety of different foods of animal origin. The illness it causes is called salmonellosis and typically includes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Calcivirus- Calicivirus is an extremely common cause of foodborne illness (though it is rarely diagnosed, because the laboratory test is not widely available). It causes an acute gastrointestinal illness, usually with more vomiting than diarrhea, that resolves within two days.
Journal of Infectious Diseases and Diagnosis
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