Are You at Risk For a Food-Borne Illness?

What are your chances of getting food poisoning, or worse? The estimated annual incidence of food-borne disease ranges from 6.5 million to 81 million cases nationally, although some experts believe that number is as high as 300 million.

The estimated annual incidence of food-borne disease ranges from 6.5 million to 81 million cases nationally, although some experts believe that number is as high as 300 million. For most healthy adults and older children, ingesting an infectious dose of food-borne germs leads to little more than a few days of diarrhea or vomiting. Other people become extremely ill with such ailments as bloody diarrhea, dehydration, kidney failure, arthritis, paralysis, or meningitis.

Each year, an estimated 9,000 American's die of complications of a food-borne disease.

There are factors that put certain people at a higher risk for food-borne illnesses, and this may fluctuate as we get older. Food-safety experts urge us, especially high-risk individuals and their loved ones, to keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold, to wash their hands before eating, to avoid cross-contaminating their food, and to exercise caution when dining out.

Are you or someone in your family at high risk for a food-borne illness right now? Take the following quiz to find out.

Are you (or your child) under age 5?
Are you over age 75?
Are you pregnant?
Do you take antacids regularly?
Are you taking an antibiotic?
Have you just finished a course of antibiotic treatment less than two weeks ago?
Do you have HIV, AIDS, or another immune system disorder?
Are you taking medication that suppresses your immune system?
Have you undergone gastric surgery?
Have you had an organ transplant?
Do you have lymphoma, leukemia, or Hodgkin's disease?
Are you undergoing cancer chemotherapy treatment?
Do you have chronic lung or heart disease?
Are you malnourished?
Do you drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day?
Do you have liver disease?
Are you a long-time steroid user (for such conditions as asthma or arthritis)?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be at risk for a food-borne disease.