Food-borne diseases are commonly referred as food poisoning. It is caused by eating contaminated food or beverages. Many different microbes and pathogens (bacteria, viruses and fungus) can spoil the food that we eat leading to food poisoning. In addition poisonous chemicals and other harmful substances when present in food can also cause food poisoning. However, the cause of this illness has changed since few decades due to multiple factors such as increase in urbanization, traveling and expansion in variety of food services.
There are more than hundred types of food borne diseases.The commonest symptom of food poisoning is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Food poisoning is quiet common and many Americans are known to suffer from this condition sometime or the other in their life. Since there are several types of food poisoning, we need to know the symptoms of most frequent and the most deadly of the types as often the condition can be life threatening.
Main Types Of Food Poisoning Bacteria And Their Symptoms
- E coli: E. coli food poisoning is common. The causative organism is bacteria called E.coli. It normally inhabits the colon without causing any problem. But sometime certain strain of E.coli can produce toxin causing intestinal diseases; usually the symptoms are pain in abdomen and diarrhea. Diarrhea due to E.coli infection is watery or mixed with blood. This pathogen is a major cause for diarrhea all over the world, particularly among children staying in tropical country. Usually the transmission of E.coli is linked with eating beef, products made from beef, wild mushrooms, salads and yogurt. However, any food or beverage can be contaminated either by storage equipment or by unhygienic living practice.
- Salmonella food poisoning: The main source of salmonella food borne disease is by eating raw eggs, raw meat, poultry products and raw unwashed vegetables. The symptoms of salmonella generally include fever, pain in abdomen, high fever, and vomiting. The symptoms may begin within 4 to 5 days after eating contaminated food. But in some cases the symptoms may start 12 to 48 hours after eating the contaminated product. Salmonella may be present in cows, raw milk, poultry, pigs, and wild animals. The symptoms may develop when a person eats raw or under-cooked food, milk. The infection can also spread directly from household pets. Salmonella cannot survive in heat. Thus the best way to prevent salmonella food poisoning is to eat freshly prepared properly cooked food.
- Campylobacter food poisoning: Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea in the tropical areas of the world. Transmission of campylobacter is via feco-oral route. Majority of food poisoning due to Campylobacter occurs by eating and drinking contaminated water, milk and food. The infection is associated with non inflammatory watery diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, headache, dizziness, and body ache. Often the pain in abdomen is extremely severe and the patient is often misdiagnosed to be suffering from acute appendicitis. The symptoms may remain for 5 to 7 days but it often takes several weeks for complete recovery from the disease and it’s after effects.
- Listeria: This bacterium is present all over the environment. The bacteria can produce wide variety of symptoms which can range from mild flu like illness to more serious condition such as meningitis. Young individuals, elderly, pregnant, and people with immune-compromised conditions are at greater risk of suffering from food poisoning from listeria. People suffering from the mentioned illnesses can reduce their chance of infection if they avoid eating meat pates. They should eat food that is thoroughly cooked. Person should reheat the stored food if it is kept in the refrigerator before eating.
- Shigella: The gram negative bacteria called shigella are known to cause bacillary dysentery characterized by mucus and blood in stool. Bacillary dysentery is endemic all over the world, but it prominently occurs in crowded population having poor sanitation facilities; particularly when there is no proper arrangement for disposal of feces. The route of transmission is from person to person by feco-oral route. Unwashed hands after defecation or touching and scratching the anus area are the principal source of infection. The bacilli have the ability to survive on fingers for several hours if the hands are not washed with soap and water. The contaminated fingers easily transfer the germs to into food and drink.