Types of Food-Borne Illnesses

  • Salmonella bacteria may cause food poisoning when contaminated meat, poultry and eggs that are eaten raw or undercooked or foods come into contact with contaminated foods during preparation. Symptoms usually occur within hours to two days and may include nausea, fever, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting lasting two to seven days. 

  • Staphylococcus aureus is carried on your skin and in throat infections and may be transmitted during food handling and preparation. Meat, poultry, salads, cheese, eggs, custards and cream-filled desserts are potential food sources. Symptoms may develop within one to eight hours after eating and may include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps lasting one to two days.  

  • Clostridium botulism is most frequently associated with foods that are canned at home and are either improperly prepared or are stored in poorly sealed containers.  Symptoms may develop within 4 to 72 hours after eating and may include nervous system disturbances such as double vision, droopy eyelids or difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing. Untreated botulism can be fatal. If you or a family member have botulism symptoms, get medical help immediately.  

  • Clostridium perfringens, also called the “buffet germ” is associated with large portions of foods that cool slowly, as in foods that are displayed in cafeteria lines or in chafing dishes, when the temperature is not properly controlled. Symptoms develop within 8 to 24 hours and may include diarrhea, gas pains, nausea and sometimes vomiting that usually lasts only a day.  

  • Campylobacter jejuni is contracted from drinking untreated water, contact with infected pets, and when contaminated meat, poultry, milk or shellfish is eaten raw or undercooked. Symptoms may develop in 2 to 10 days and may include severe diarrhea, cramps, fever and headache that may last up to 10 days.

  • Listeria monocytogenes, which causes the disease Listerosis, is spread in untreated water, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, raw meats and seafood and in raw vegetables that have been infected by manure fertilizer. Symptoms may appear in 2 to 30 days after ingestion. Symptoms in adults include fever, chills and intestinal flu-like symptoms. Infants may vomit, refuse to drink or have trouble breathing. Potential complications include meningitis or encephalitis, blood poisoning, spontaneous abortion and stillbirth. In rare cases, the disease can be fatal. Pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, infirm and immune-compromised are at the highest risk.

  • Shigella bacteria cause the disease Shigellosis which is transmitted from humans to humans via poor sanitary habits. Foods that are most often implicated are poultry, milk and dairy products, salads and other foods that require a lot of mixing and handling in the preparation stage. Symptoms may appear within one to seven days and may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, sometimes vomiting, and blood, pus or mucus in stool, lasting five to six days. 

  • Escherichia coli is the bacterium that is associated with hemorrhagic colitis. It may be contracted by drinking water that contains raw sewage, or in raw or rare ground beef and unpasteurized milk. Symptoms may develop over 3 to 4 days and may include severe abdominal cramps followed by diarrhea (often bloody), nausea, vomiting and fever lasting up to 10 days. The person may require hospitalization, and the disease in children may result in kidney failure. 

  • Hepatitis A is a viral disease contracted when shellfish are harvested from polluted water is eaten raw. Hepatitis A also may be transmitted by human carriers who prepare and serve uncooked foods. Symptoms may develop over 14 to 50 days and usually include fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and appetite loss, followed by liver enlargement, jaundice and darkened urine. Hepatitis A may cause liver damage and death.          

  • Norwalk-like virus is a group of viruses that cause viral gastroenteritis. It may be contracted when contaminated shellfish is eaten raw or only partially cooked. It also may be spread when infected people prepare food. Symptoms usually appear within 24 to 48 hours and may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills and body aches.

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