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Food-Borne Infections and Intoxications

Bacillus Cereus – Foodborne Intoxication

Found

Widely distributed in nature; can be isolated from meats, milk, vegetables, and fish.

Transmission

Bacteria produce a toxin that causes illness. Vomiting-type outbreaks have usually been associated with rice products and other starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta, and cheese products. Sauces, puddings, soups, casseroles, pastries, and salads have also been implicated in outbreaks.

Symptoms

Food poisoning is characterized by nausea and vomiting 0.5 to six hours after the ingestion of a contaminated food product. In more severe cases, abdominal cramps and diarrhea might occur with symptoms lasting up to 24 hours.

Campylobacter jejuni – Foodborne Infection

Found

Widely distributed in nature; can be isolated from meats, milk, vegetables, and fish.

Transmission

Bacteria produce a toxin that causes illness. Vomiting-type outbreaks have usually been associated with rice products and other starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta, and cheese products. Sauces, puddings, soups, casseroles, pastries, and salads have also been implicated in outbreaks.

Symptoms

Food poisoning is characterized by nausea and vomiting 0.5 to six hours after the ingestion of a contaminated food product. In more severe cases, abdominal cramps and diarrhea might occur with symptoms lasting up to 24 hours.

Campylobacter jejuni – Foodborne Infection

Found

Intestinal tracts of animals, birds, raw milk, untreated water, and sewage sludge.

Transmission

Contaminated water, raw milk, and raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or shellfish.

Symptoms

Fever, headache, and muscle pain followed by diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, and nausea that appear two to five days after eating; may last seven to 10 days.

Clostridium botulinum – Foodborne Intoxication

Found

Widely distributed in nature; soil and water on plants and intestinal tracts of animals and fish. Grows only in little or no oxygen.

Transmission

Bacteria produce a toxin that causes illness. Improperly canned foods, garlic in oil, vacuum-packed and tightly wrapped food.

Symptoms

Toxins affect the nervous system. Symptoms usually appear in 18 to 36 hours, but can sometimes appear as few as four hours or as many as eight days after eating. Double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking and swallowing, and difficulty breathing may occur. Can be fatal in three to 10 days if not treated.

Clostridium perfringens

Found

Soil, dust, sewage, and intestinal tracts of animals and humans. Grows only in little or no oxygen.

Transmission

Called "the cafeteria germ" because many outbreaks result from food left for long periods in steam tables or at room temperature. Bacteria destroyed by cooking, but some toxin-producing spores may survive.

Symptoms

Diarrhea and gas pains may appear eight to 24 hours after eating; usually last about 1 day, but less severe symptoms may persist for one to two weeks.

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 – Foodborne Infection

Found

Intestinal tracts of some mammals, raw milk, unchlorinated water; one of several strains of E. coli that can cause human illness.

Transmission

Contaminated water, raw milk, raw or rare ground beef, unpasteurized apple juice or cider, uncooked fruits and vegetables, person-to-person.

Symptoms

Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and malaise; can begin two to five days after food is eaten, lasting about eight days. Some, especially the very young, have developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) that causes acute kidney failure. A similar illness, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), may occur in older adults.

Hepatitis A virus – Foodborne Infection

Found

Hepatitis A is widely distributed throughout the world, occurring in both epidemic and sporadic cases. Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted person to person by the fecal-oral route, but common source transmission does occur.

Transmission

Hepatitis A virus is excreted in feces of infected people and can produce clinical disease when a susceptible individual consumes contaminated water or foods. Cold cuts and sandwiches, fruits, fruit juices, milk and milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks all can be considered vehicles for the transmission of Hepatitis A.

Symptoms

Hepatitis A is usually a mild illness characterized by sudden onset of fever, malaise, nausea, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort, followed by several days of jaundice.

Listeria monocytogenes – Foodborne Infection

Found

Some studies suggest that 1% to 10% of humans may be intestinal carriers of Listeria Monocytogenes. It has been found in at least 37 mammalian species, both domestic and feral, as well as at least 17 species of birds and possibly some species of fish and shellfish. It can be isolated from soil, silage, and other environmental sources

Transmission

Raw milks, pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses, ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats, and raw and smoked fish.

Symptoms

Some studies suggest that 1% to 10% of humans may be intestinal carriers of Listeria monocytogenes. It has been found in at least 37 mammalian species, both domestic and feral, as well as at least 17 species of birds, and possibly some species of fish and shellfish. It can be isolated from soil, silage, and other environmental sources.

Listeria monocytogenes

Found

Intestinal tracts of humans and animals, milk, soil, leaf vegetables, and processed foods; can grow slowly at refrigerator temperatures.

Transmission

Soft cheese, raw milk, improperly processed ice cream, raw leafy vegetables, meat, and poultry. Illness caused by bacteria that do not produce toxin.

Symptoms

Fever, chills, headache, backache, sometimes abdominal pain and diarrhea; 12 hours to three weeks; may later develop more serious illness in at-risk patients (meningitis or spontaneous abortion in pregnant women); sometimes just fatigue.

Norwalk virus group – Foodborne Infection

Found

The virus has been identified in clams and oysters by radio immunoassay. It is typically shed in the feces of humans.

Transmission

Norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods. Shellfish and salad ingredients are the foods most often implicated in Norwalk outbreaks. Ingestion of raw or insufficiently steamed clams and oysters poses a high risk for infection with Norwalk virus.

Salmonella (over 2,300 types)

Found

Intestinal tract and feces of animals; Salmonella enteritidis in raw eggs.

Transmission

Raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, and meat; raw milk and dairy products; seafood and food handlers.

Symptoms

 Stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, chills, fever, and headache usually appear eight to 72 hours after eating; may last one to two days.

Shigella (over 30 types)

Found

Human intestinal tract; rarely found in other animals.

Transmission

Person-to-person by fecal-oral route; fecal contamination of food and water. Most outbreaks result from food, especially salads, prepared and handled by workers using poor personal hygiene techniques.

Symptoms

Disease referred to as "shigellosis" or bacillary dysentery. Diarrhea containing blood and mucus, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, and vomiting; 12 to 50 hours from ingestion of bacteria; can last a few days to two weeks.

Staphylococcus aureus – Foodborne Intoxication

Found

On the skin, infected cuts, pimples, noses, and throats.

Transmission

From people to food through improper food handling. Multiply rapidly at room temperature to produce a toxin that causes illness.

Symptoms

Severe nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur one to six hours after eating; recovery within two to three days—longer if severe dehydration occurs.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus and other marine Vibrio spp.-Food-Borne Infection

Found

Both pathogenic and non-pathogenic forms of the organism can be isolated from marine and estuarine environments and from fish and shellfish dwelling in these environments.

Transmission

Infections with this organism have been associated with the consumption of raw, improperly cooked, or cooked, recontaminated fish and shellfish.

Symptoms

Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills may be associated with infections caused by this organism.

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