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7/11/2015

FoodPoisoning:Causes,Symptoms,Treatments,Recovery

FoodPoisoning

ReviewedbyWilliamBlahd,MDonSeptember05,2014
Foodpoisoningisacommon,yetdistressingandsometimeslifethreateningproblem
formillionsofpeopleintheU.S.andthroughouttheworld.Peopleinfectedwithfood
borneorganismsmaybesymptomfreeormayhavesymptomsrangingfrommild
intestinaldiscomforttoseveredehydrationandbloodydiarrhea.Dependingonthetype
ofinfection,peoplecanevendieasaresultoffoodpoisoning.
Morethan250differentdiseasescancausefoodpoisoning.Someofthemost
commondiseasesareinfectionscausedbybacteria,such
asCampylobacter,Salmonella,Shigella,E.coliO157:H7,Listeria,botulism,
andnorovirus.
WhatIsCampylobacterInfection?

Campylobacterisabacteriumthatcausesacutediarrhea.Transmissionusuallyoccurs
throughingestionofcontaminatedfood,water,orunpasteurizedmilk,orthrough
contactwithinfectedinfants,pets,orwildanimals.
Symptomsofcampylobacterinclude:
Diarrhea(sometimesbloody)
Nauseaandvomiting
Abdominalpainand/orcramping
Malaise(generaluneasiness)
Fever

IsCampylobacterInfectionaSeriousHealthConcern?

Campylobacterinfectioncanbeserious,especiallyinthosewithweakenedimmune
systems.Inrarecases,campylobacterinfectioncancauseadditionalproblemssuch
asreactivearthritisorbrainandnerveproblems.Occasionally,theseproblemsoccur
afterthediarrheahasstopped.
HowIsCampylobacterInfectionDiagnosedandTreated?

Ifyouthinkyoumayhavebeenexposedtocampylobacterinfection,seeyourdoctor.
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Bytestingasampleofstool,thebacteriacanbeidentified.

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Ifyouarefoundtohavetheinfection,youwilllikelyrecoveronyourownwithout
treatmentwithintwotofivedays.Drinkplentyoffluidstopreventbecoming
dehydrated.
Inmoreseverecases,antibiotics(suchasCipro),ifgivenearlyintheillness,canbe
usedtoshortenthelengthoftimeyouaresick.
WhatIsSalmonella?

Salmonellaisabacterialinfectionthatcanbepassedontohumansfromdomesticand
wildanimals,includingpoultry,pigs,cattle,andpets.Butmostoften,itiscausedby
drinkingunpasteurizedmilkorbyeatingundercookedpoultryandpoultryproducts
suchaseggs.Anyfoodpreparedonsurfacescontaminatedbyrawchickenorturkey
canalsobecometaintedwithsalmonella.Lessoften,theillnessmaystemfromfood
contaminatedbyafoodworker.
WhatIsSalmonella?continued...

Salmonellacanescapefromtheintestineandgointothebloodandtraveltoother
organs.Itmaybecomeachronicinfectioninsomepeople,whocanbesymptomfree
yetcapableofspreadingthediseasetoothers.
Salmonellainfectionsoccurworldwide,butitismostextensivelyreportedinNorth
AmericaandEurope.
Symptomsofsalmonellaincludeacuteonsetof:
Fever
Abdominalpain
Diarrhea
Nausea
Vomiting(sometimes)
Thesesymptoms,alongwithlossofappetite,canpersistforseveraldays.
CanSalmonellaInfectionCauseSeriousHealthProblems?

Althoughmostpeoplerecovercompletely(whichsometimescantakeseveralmonths),
salmonellainfectionmaycauseaconditionknownasreactivearthritisinasmall

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percentageofpeople.Symptomsincludejointpain,eyeirritation,andpainwhen
urinating.Thejointpainmaydevelopintochronicarthritis.
Salmonellainfectionrarelycausesdeath,althoughitcanoccurintheveryyoung,very
old,oramongthosewhohavecompromisedimmunesystems.
HowIsSalmonellaInfectionDiagnosedandTreated?

Ifyouthinkyoumayhavebeenexposedtothesalmonellainfection,seeyourdoctor.
Bytestingasampleofstool,thebacteriacanbeidentified.
Salmonellainfectionsusuallygoawayinfivetosevendaysandoftendonotrequire
treatmentunlessyoubecomeseverelydehydratedortheinfectionspreadsoutsideof
theintestines.Iftreatmentisneeded,antibioticsareprescribed.
HowCanIAvoidSalmonella?

Topreventsalmonellainfection,avoideatingraworundercookedmeatorpoultry
products,includingeggs.Itisalsoimportanttoavoid"crosscontamination,"whichcan
occuriffoodisbeingpreparedusingthesameutensils,oronthesamesurfaces,as
thoseusedforraworundercookedmeatsorpoultryproducts.
Washhandsfrequentlyduringandafterfoodpreparation.Thosewithasalmonella
infectionshouldnotbeinvolvedinfoodpreparation.
Washhandswithsoapafterhandlingreptiles,birds,oraftercontactwithpetfeces.
Avoidcontactbetweenreptiles(turtles,iguanas,otherlizards,andsnakes)andinfants
orpeoplewithweakenedimmunesystems.
WhatIsShigella?

Shigellaisabacteriagenerallytransmittedthroughfeces.Itcausesdysentery,an
infectionoftheintestinesthatcausesseverediarrhea.Thediseasegenerallyoccursin
tropicalortemperateclimates,especiallyunderconditionsofcrowding,wherepersonal
hygieneispoor.
Symptomsofshigellainclude:
Bloodydiarrhea
Fever
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Nausea
Vomiting
Cramps

HowIsShigellaDiagnosedandTreated?

Ifyouthinkyoumayhavebeenexposedtoshigella,seeyourdoctor.Bytestinga
sampleofstool,thebacteriacanbeidentified.
Peoplewithmildinfectionsusuallyrecoverwithinafewdayswithoutspecialtreatment.
Drinkingfluidstopreventdehydrationisusuallyallthatisneeded.However,with
severeinfections,antibioticsandmoreaggressivetreatmenttopreventdehydrationare
oftenneeded.
HowCanShigellaInfectionBeAvoided?

Theshigellabacteriafromstoolsofinfectedpeoplecanbepassedtoothersifhygiene
orhandwashinghabitsareinadequate.Tohelppreventtransmittingtheinfection,
alwayswashhandsthoroughlyafterusingthebathroomorchangingdiapers.
WhatIsE.ColiO157:H7?

E.coliO157:H7isagrowingcauseoffoodborneillness.Anestimated73,000casesof
theseE.coliinfectionsoccurintheU.S.everyyear,accordingtotheCDC.
MostE.coliO157:H7infectionshavebeenassociatedwitheatingundercooked,
contaminatedgroundbeef.Drinkingunpasteurizedmilkandswimminginordrinking
sewagecontaminatedwatercanalsocauseinfection.Bacteriafromstoolsofinfected
peoplecanbepassedtoothersiflessthanadequatehygieneorhandwashinghabits
arepresent.Youngchildrenoftencontinuetoshedtheorganismintheirfecesfora
weekortwoaftertheirillnessresolves.
SymptomsofE.coliinfectioncanincludeseverebloodydiarrheaandabdominal
cramps,butsometimestheinfectioncausesnonbloodydiarrhea,aslightfever,orno
symptomsatall.
CanE.ColiO157:H7InfectionCauseSeriousHealthProblems?

Yes.Insomepeople,particularlychildrenunderage5andtheelderly,theE.coli
infectioncancauseaseriouscomplicationcalledhemolyticuremicsyndrome.
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Hemolyticuremicsyndromecausesthedestructionofredbloodcellsandkidney
failure.About2%7%ofinfectionsleadtothiscomplication,accordingtotheCDC.
HowIsE.ColiO157:H7InfectionDiagnosedandTreated?

IfyouthinkyoumayhavebeenexposedtotheE.coliinfection,seeyourdoctor.By
testingasampleofstool,thebacteriacanbeidentified.ItisrecommendedbytheCDC
thatallthosewhohavesudden,bloodydiarrheagettheirstooltestedforthistypeofE.
coli.
Mostpeoplerecoverontheirownwithinaboutfiveto10days.
Hemolyticuremicsyndromeisamedicalemergencyandmostoftenwillbetreatedin
anintensivecareunit.
HowIsE.ColiO157:H7InfectionPrevented?

YoucanpreventE.coliinfectionbythoroughlycookinggroundbeef,avoiding
unpasteurizedmilk,andwashinghandscarefullyafterhandlingmeat,usingthe
bathroom,orchangingdiapers.
WhatIsListeriaInfection?

Listeriaisabacteriaprimarilyfoundinsoilandwater.AccordingtotheCDC,
vegetablescanbecomecontaminatedfromsoilorfrommanureusedasfertilizer.
Animalscarryingthebacteriumcanalsocontaminatefood.Listeriahasbeenfoundin
manytypesofuncookedfoods,suchasmeatsandvegetables,aswellasinprocessed
foodsthatbecomecontaminatedafterprocessing,suchassoftcheeses(likefetaand
crumbledbluecheese)andcoldcuts.
Unpasteurizedmilkorfoodsmadefromunpasteurizedmilkmayalsobesourcesof
listeriainfection.Listeriaiskilledbypasteurization,andheatingproceduresusedto
preparereadytoeatprocessedmeatsshouldbesufficienttokillthebacterium.
However,unlessgoodmanufacturingpracticesarefollowed,contaminationcanoccur
evenafterprocessing.
TheCDCestimates1,600illnessesand260deathsfromlisteriainfectioneachyear.
TheCDCreportsthatthoseatincreasedriskfordevelopinglisteriosisinclude:
Pregnantwomen

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Peoplewithweakenedimmunesystems
Peoplewithcancer,diabetes,orkidneydisease
PeoplewithAIDS
People,suchasthosewithasthma,whotakesteroidmedications
Theelderly
Symptomsofalisteriainfectioncaninclude:
Fever
Muscleaches
Nausea
Diarrhea
Iflisteriainfectionspreadstothenervoussystem(brainandspinalcord),thefollowing
symptomscanoccur:
Headache
Stiffneck
Confusion
Lossofbalance
Convulsions
Infectedpregnantwomenmayexperienceonlyamild,flulikeillnesshowever,
infectionduringpregnancycanleadtoprematuredelivery,infectionofthenewborn,or
evenstillbirth.Thereisnoroutinescreeningtesttofindoutifyouarelikelytocontract
listeriainfectionduringpregnancy.Ifyouhavesymptomsoflisteriosis,consultyour
doctorimmediately.
HowIsListeriaInfectionDiagnosedandTreated?

Listeriainfectionisoftendiagnosedbyamedicalhistoryandconfirmedbybloodor
spinalfluidtests.
Antibiotictreatmentwillusuallycuretheinfection,andwhengivenpromptlytoan
infectedpregnantwoman,maypreventinfectionofherfetus.

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Evenwithprompttreatment,someinfectionsresultindeath.Intheelderlyandpeople
withotherseriousmedicalproblems,theseinfectionsaremorelikelytobefatal.
WhatIsBotulism?

ThebacteriumClostridiumbotulinumisresponsibleforcausingtherarebutserious
illnessbotulism.
AccordingtotheCDC,thethreemaintypesofbotulismarefoodborne,wound,
andinfantbotulism.Foodbornebotulismiscausedbyeatingfoodsthatcontainthe
botulismtoxin.Woundbotulism,whichisveryrare,iscausedbyatoxinproducedfrom
awoundinfectedwithC.botulinum.Infantbotulismiscausedbyconsumingthespores
ofbotulinumbacteria,whichgrowinachild'sintestines.
Allformsofbotulismcanbedeadlyandareconsideredmedicalemergencies.
Symptomsofbotulisminclude:
Blurredvision
Doublevision
Droopyeyelids
Slowedorslurredspeech
Difficultyswallowing
Drymouth
Muscleweakness
Ininfantswithbotulismthesymptomsinclude:
Poorfeedinghabits
Constipation
Weakcrying
Lethargy
Poormuscletone
Ifthesesymptomsareuntreated,theymayleadtoparalysisofthearms,legs,trunk,
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andrespiratorymuscles.Symptomsoffoodbornebotulismusuallydevelop18to36

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hoursafterconsumingcontaminatedfood,butsymptomscanoccurasearlyassix
hoursoraslateasaweekto10days.
HowIsBotulismDiagnosedandTreated?

Adiagnosisofbotulismismadebythepresenceofappropriatesymptomsofnerve
weaknessandbylabteststhatdetectthetoxinorbycultureofC.botulinumfromthe
person'sstool.
Therespiratoryfailure(inabilitytobreathe)andparalysisthatoccurwithsevere
botulismmayrequireintensivemedicalandnursingcareinahospital.
Ifdiagnosedinitsearlystages,foodbornebotulismcanbetreatedwithanantitoxin
medication.
Yourdoctormayalsotrytoremoveanycontaminatedfoodleftinthedigestive
systembyinducingvomitingorbyusingenemas.
Infantsinfectedwiththebacteriarequirehospitalizationandpossiblycareinan
intensivecareunit.Thebotulismantitoxinisnotrecommendedforinfants.
HowCanBotulismBePrevented?

Althoughthereareveryfewcasesofbotulismpoisoningeachyear,preventionis
extremelyimportant.AccordingtotheCDC,foodbornebotulismhasoftenbeenlinked
tohomecannedfoodswithalowacidcontent.Thesefoodsincludeasparagus,green
beans,beets,andcorn.Peoplehavealsobecomeinfectedfromothersources
includingchoppedgarlicinoil,chilipeppers,tomatoes,improperlyhandledbaked
potatoescookedinaluminumfoil,andhomecannedorfermentedfish(suchas
sardines).
Personswhocantheirownfoodshouldfollowstrictcanningprocedurestoreduce
contaminationoffoods.
Honeyshouldnotbegiventochildrenyoungerthan12monthsofage,asitcan
containsporesofC.botulinumandisknowntocauseinfantbotulism.

WebMDMedicalReference

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2014WebMD,LLC.Allrightsreserved.

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