Food borne illness also referred to as ‘Food Poisoning’ is any kind of illness triggered by the consumption of unhygienic food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that infect food, in addition to chemicals or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms.
Food borne illnesses are a common cause of distress in America and the rest of the world. Food poisoning can range from being very mild in nature to extremely severe. Sometimes the symptoms may not even be visible, while at other times, they can vary from slight stomach discomfort to severe diarrhea and severe dehydration. Depending on what type of infection is causing the food borne illness, death can sometimes be a likely outcome as well.
There are over 250 diseases that can lead to food borne illnesses. Some of these diseases are infections caused by bacteria, with the six most common ones being Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, and Botulism. Let us review these infections, and shed some light on the causes and symptoms of food borne illnesses in terms of these individual infections.
Campylobacter is basically a bacterium that cause acute diarrhea. The major cause of this infection is through transmission of the bacterium which usually occurs through the ingestion of food or water that is contaminated or unpasteurized milk, or even through close contact with infected animals or infants.
Symptoms of food borne illness caused by this infection include:
Salmonella is an infection that is mostly acquired by consuming unpasteurized milk, undercooked poultry or poultry products such as eggs. This bacterial infection can also be passed on to humans via domesticated animals and wild animals alike. Also, sometimes, however it is very rare, that this food borne illness may also stem from food contaminated by a food worker who is infected with salmonella.
The symptoms of food borne illnesses rising from salmonella include:
Shigella is an infection that is common place in tropical or temperate climates, and places where personal hygiene is not taken care of. Shigella is primarily a bacterium that is transmitted through feces. This infection leads to an infection of the intestines leading to severe diarrhea, called dysentery.
Symptoms of food borne illnesses spurred on by Shigella include:
E. Coli has been documented as per research to be one of the most commonly growing causes of food borne illnesses in America. This infection has mostly been associated with consumption of contaminated undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk and water. The bacteria can also be passed on to other individuals through stools of infected people if washing habits are not correctly in place.
Symptoms of food borne illnesses caused by E. Coli may not always be visible, but when they are, they include:
Listeria is a type of bacteria that is primarily found in water and in soil. A report published by the CDC states that fruits and vegetables can become contaminated from soil or fertilizer in the form of manure. Uncooked meat and vegetables are also known to carry listeria and so are processed foods after undergoing processing, unpasteurized milk and milk products. The CDC states that people who are at a higher risk of developing food borne illnesses caused by listeria include pregnant ladies, the elderly those who have a weak immune system, people with either AIDS, diabetes, kidney diseases, cancer and those who suffer from asthma.
The symptoms of food borne illnesses that are caused by listeria include those that are limited to the body and those that may occur if the infection spreads to the brain. These symptoms are:
‘Clostridium botulinum’ is the bacterium that is responsible for causing the rare and highly dangerous food borne illness, botulism. A diagnosis of botulism is made on the basis of symptoms displaying nerve weakness or by lab tests that show the presence of this particular toxin or by a culture of the bacterium causing the infection from the infected person’s stool.
Symptoms of food borne illnesses caused by the particular bacterium of ‘clostridium botulinum’ or the infection botulism are: