Food poisoning

Food poisoning
A common flu-like illness typically characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, due to something the victim ate or drank that contained noxious bacteria, viruses, parasites, metals or toxins. The most prominent causes of food poisoning are Norwalk virus and Norwalk-like viruses, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus, and E. coli O157:H7. Following is a short summary of the food poisoning due to each of these causes: {{}}Norwalk virus and Norwalk-like viruses — These fairly benign viruses account for two-thirds of food poisoning attacks. They are highly infectious and spread through contamination of food by small amounts of human feces. Within a day or two of consuming the tainted food — typically shellfish (raw or improperly steamed clams and oysters from polluted waters) and salad ingredients — victims develop abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, possibly with a headache and low-grade fever. Some people also suffer severe cramping or bloody diarrhea, but most get better in 24 to 60 hours. Campylobacter jejuni — Now the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning, most often spread by contact with raw or undercooked poultry. The number of organisms in a single drop of juice from a contaminated chicken is enough to make someone sick. Symptoms tend to start 2-5 days after exposure and typically last a week. Symptoms resemble viral gastroenteritis — diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea and vomiting — but with Campylobacter, fever is typical and the diarrhea is often bloody. Most victims get better without specific treatment, but those with immune deficiencies may benefit from two weeks of antibiotics. And everyone with diarrhea should maintain a high intake of fluids for as long as it persists. Salmonella — Almost any food can carry the bacteria that cause salmonellosis — raw and undercooked eggs most often, but also poultry, raw meat, dairy products, pasta, shrimp, sauces, salad dressing, fresh vegetables, chocolate, coconut, peanut butter and even yeast. Salmonella may be present INSIDE AN EGG, merely on its shell. Abdominal cramping and diarrhea typically occur 6 to 48 hours after exposure and may be accompanied by fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Though salmonella bacteria account for only about 10% of food poisonings, they are responsible for nearly a third of food-related deaths. Antibiotics are not recommended except for people with immune deficiencies, infants, the elderly and people with severe illnesses. Listeria monocytogenes — This organism can cause encephalitis, meningitis, blood-borne infection and death. It is especially hazardous for pregnant women (posing a threat of miscarriage or stillbirth), newborn babies, the elderly and immune-deficient patients. It causes about 28%of deaths due to food poisoning.

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food poisoning n
1) either of two acute gastrointestinal disorders caused by bacteria or their toxic products:
a) a rapidly developing intoxication marked by nausea, vomiting, prostration, and often severe diarrhea and caused by the presence in food of toxic products produced by bacteria (as some staphylococci)
b) a less rapidly developing infection esp. with salmonellas that has generally similar symptoms and that results from multiplication of bacteria ingested with contaminated food
2) a gastrointestinal disturbance occurring after consumption of food that is contaminated with chemical residues (as from sprays) or food (as some fungi) that is inherently unsuitable for human consumption

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an illness affecting the digestive system that results from eating food that is contaminated either by bacteria or bacterial toxins or, less commonly, by residues of insecticides (on fruit and vegetables) or poisonous chemicals such as lead or mercury. It can also be caused by eating poisonous fungi, berries, etc. Symptoms commence 1-24 hours after ingestion and include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and nausea. Food-borne infections are caused by bacteria of the genera Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria in foods of animal origin. The disease is transmitted by human carriers who handle the food, by shellfish growing in sewage-polluted waters, or by vegetables fertilized by manure. Toxin-producing bacteria causing food poisoning include those of the genus Staphylococcus, which rapidly multiply in warm foods; pathogenic Escherichia; and the species Clostridium perfringens, which multiplies in reheated cooked meals. A rare form of food poisoning - botulism - is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which may contaminate badly preserved canned foods. See also gastroenteritis.

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a group of illnesses varying in severity from mild and self-limited to life threatening, caused by ingestion of contaminated food or food that is inherently poisonous. Various microorganisms may cause it, the most common being pathogenic bacteria or their products (bacterial toxins), e.g., Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter, Clostridium botulinum, C. perfringens, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus, Shigella species, Salmonella species, and Yersinia enterocolitica. Bacterial food poisoning is usually manifested as bacterial gastroenteritis (q.v.), but it may also be associated with such syndromes as botulism, typhoid fever, and cholera. Neurologic symptoms can also be caused by food poisoning as a result of ingestion of chemically toxic foods, such as certain mushrooms and berries, or ingestion or inhalation of substances such as heavy metals, mercury, or insecticides.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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