Food poisoning is a common, yet distressing and sometimes life-threatening problem for millions of people in the U.S., and throughout the world. People infected with foodborne organisms may be symptom-free or may have symptoms ranging from mild intestinal discomfort to severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea. Depending on the type of infection, people can even die as a result of food poisoning.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause a mild illness (often termed “stomach flu”) with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and low-grade fever. These symptoms usually resolve in two to three days. It is the most common viral cause of adult food poisoning and is transmitted from water, shellfish, and vegetables contaminated by feces, as well as from person to person.
Symptoms of scombroid poisoning will usually develop 20 to 30 minutes after you eat an affected fish. They can include flushing (turning red), nausea, vomiting, hives and difficulty breathing. These symptoms are similar to other allergic reactions. However, getting scombroid poisoning does not mean you are allergic to fish.
Causes of Food Poisoning
Food poisoning can affect one person or it can occur as an outbreak in a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food.
Even though food poisoning is relatively rare in the United States, it affects between 60 and 80 million .
The most common causes are as follows: (1) leaving prepared food at temperatures that allow bacterial growth, (2) inadequate cooking or reheating, (3) cross-contamination, and (4) infection in food handlers. Cross-contamination may occur when raw contaminated food comes in contact with other foods, especially cooked foods, through direct contact or indirect contact on food preparation surfaces.
How to Fight the Germs
Many things can be done to prevent food poisoning. These precautions should be taken at every stage a food takes — from preparation to cooking to storing leftovers. A lot of this responsibility falls on grown-ups, but kids can help fight germs, too.
Diagnosis Food Poisoning
One important aspect of diagnosing food poisoning is for doctors to determine if a number of people have eaten the same food and show the same symptoms of illness. When this happens, food poisoning is strongly suspected. The diagnosis is confirmed when the suspected bacteria is found in a stool culture or a fecal smear from the person. Other laboratory tests are used to isolate bacteria from a sample of the contaminated food. Botulism is usually diagnosed from its distinctive neurological symptoms, since rapid treatment is essential.
Treatment Food Poisoning
Most cases of food poisoning clear up within a few days without seeing a doctor. However, you should get medical advice if:
The illness lasts for more than a few days or general condition worsens, there is blood in the stools, if someone suspects that food bought from, or eaten in, a specific shop, takeaway or restaurant is responsible, they should also inform their local environmental health department, so food hygiene standards can be investigated.
People worldwide each year and results in approximately 6 to 8 million deaths.