Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning Health Summary
Food poisoning is caused by infectious or toxic agents. Infectious agents include bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Toxic agents include pesticides on fruits or vegetables, poisonous mushrooms, or improperly prepared exotic foods (for example, barracuda). Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Treatment of food poisoning depends upon the cause.
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Food Poisoning Overview

Food poisoning is a common, usually mild, but sometimes deadly illness. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that occur suddenly (within 48 hours) after consuming a contaminated food or drink. Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow. These symptoms may affect one person or a group of people who ate the same thing (called an outbreak).

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, 1 in 6 people becomes sick from eating contaminated food. In 2012, the CDC estimated that food poisoning causes about 48 million illnesses, and up to 3,000 deaths each year.
  • Norovirus and salmonella are the most common infectious forms of food-borne illness. Salmonella causes the most deaths followed by Toxoplasma and Listeria.
  • Nearly one in five episodes of diarrhea is likely to be due to a food-borne disease.
  • Worldwide, diarrheal illnesses are among the leading causes of death. Travelers to developing countries often encounter food poisoning in the form of traveler's diarrhea or "Montezuma's revenge." Additionally, there are possible new global threats to the world's food supply through terrorist actions using food toxins as weapons.
  • Increased virulence of known pathogens has caused deadly outbreaks such as the E. Coli STEC outbreak in Germany in 2011.
  • In 2013 there was an outbreak in the U.S. of 514 cases of Cyclospora infection reported in 17 states and at least 30 people were hospitalized as of August 2013.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2013

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Food Poisoning

Salmonella poisoning

Salmonella poisoning facts

  • Salmonella are bacteria that cause diseases (gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever) in humans.
  • Salmonella are transferred to humans by many routes (for example, unwashed fruits, vegetables and nuts, uncooked or undercooked meats and eggs, contaminated water).
  • Salmonella infections are usually diagnosed by fecal cultures.
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