List of Potential Foodborne Illnesses A Long One

We’ve long written about the dangers of <"">tainted food—what ABC Action News calls Fatal Food—and the ubiquity and variety of foodborne pathogens that can be found in our food supply. ABC Action News has compiled a detailed list of the most popular culprits, noting that there are over 200 diseases that can reach our food supplies, sickening about 25 percent of the population annually. The food poisoning formation is based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Restaurant Association. In every case described, more serious illness is seen in the elderly, infants, and the severely debilitated or ill. Also, most of these infections can be treated with antibiotics, although many strains have developed drug resistance.

Noroviruses (Norwalk-like viruses): A highly contagious, severe gastrointestinal illness commonly referred to as the “stomach flu,” Norovirus spreads quickly because it transmits easily through the vomit and feces of sick people. Contact with only a few particles can make a person ill. Symptoms, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache and low-grade fever” and tend to appear “within 24-48 hours of infection and last one or two days.” The most popular foods involved are “shellfish, raw vegetables, eggs, water, and ice,” said ABC Action News.

Salmonella: “Headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fever, and loss of appetite,” says ABC Action News, are among the most prevalent symptoms which occur in six hours and last up to three days, and coming from “undercooked meats or eggs, milk, cheese, or produce.”

Campylobacter: Usually infecting us from tainted poultry, milk, and water, symptoms of campylobacter include “fever, headache, muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea,” with symptoms appearing two-to-five days after eating tainted food and lasting up to 10 days. Infections can lead to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a potentially paralyzing illness that can leave victims with mild to severe neurological damage, as well as meningitis.

E. coli: Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal cramps, and vomiting; most severely, kidney failure can occur. Other adverse effects, some long-term and serious, are Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and a form of reactive arthritis called Reiter’s Syndrome. Some victims require kidney transplants and may have scarred intestines that cause lasting digestive difficulty and some patients who supposedly recovered, can experience long-term health problems; about 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, in which kidneys and other organs fail. ABC Action News also notes that this pathogen can also, rarely, cause “a disease in the brain, seizures, coma, or blood clots in the brain.” E. coli symptoms show up within one-eight days and there are hundreds of strains, which affects a broad array of food, including said ABC “raw and undercooked meats, cheeses, lettuce and other produce, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw fish, cream pies, and mashed potatoes.”

Clostridium botulinum: Typically found in “canned foods, garlic in oil, and smoked foods,” said ABC Action News, contamination with Clostridium botulinum spores can lead to botulism, a paralytic foodborne illness with symptoms such as general weakness, dizziness, double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech and trouble with speaking or swallowing, and dry mouth. Difficulty in breathing; weakness of other muscles—for instance, muscle weakness that starts at the shoulders and moves progressively down the body—abdominal distension, and constipation may also occur in this infection that is extremely neurotoxic and can cause paralysis of breathing muscles, leading to death without treatment and respiratory ventilation. Complications can include infection and aspiration pneumonia, long-term weakness, respiratory distress, and long-term nervous system problems. Symptoms occur from 8-36 hours to eight days after consuming tainted food Only a very small amount of this toxin is sufficient to lead to severe poisoning.

Hepatitis A: May be originate from inappropriately cooked food or raw or undercooked shellfish caught from tainted waters. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include an abrupt onset of fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice. Symptoms commonly appear within 28 days of exposure, with a range of 15-50 days.

Shigellosis (dysentery): Typically appearing from 12-96 hours and up to one week and lasting 4-7 days, this pathogen prefers “raw produce and many ready-to-eat foods” and can be spread by flies. Shigella is a genus of bacteria that are a major cause of diarrhea worldwide and is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water—generally with feces. Shigella can invade and destroy the cells lining the large intestine, causing mucosal ulceration and bloody diarrhea and fever, abdominal cramps, and rectal pain.

Bacillus cereus: Illness comes within 24 hours after exposure and can result in a diarrheal illness. Serious illness and permanent injury can occur and infection can also cause meningitis. Diarrhea, cramps, pain, and vomiting from six to 15 hours after eating and lasting about 24 hours is typical, said ABC Action News. The pathogen prefers “meats, milk, vegetables, fish, starchy foods and cheese.”

Listeria: Can cause significant illness linked to issues with the central nervous system as well as the developing fetus and placenta. Poisoning can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, nausea, abdominal cramps and pain, and diarrhea, as well as, said ABC Action News, vomiting, delirium, shock, and lesions on vital organs. Tainted meat and poultry, vegetables, fruit, and dairy products are the likeliest culprits. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected; Listeriosis can kill fetuses, prompt premature births, and can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can prompt neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

Staphylococcus aureus: Disease caused by the enterotoxins of strains of S. aureus, also known as staph with symptoms that manifest rapidly and acutely and include nausea, vomiting, retching, abdominal cramping, and prostration. More severe cases involve headache, muscle cramping, and transient changes in blood pressure and pulse rate. Recovery takes 2-3 days, longer, in severe cases and the bacteria likes “contaminated, ready-to-eat, high-protein foods such as meat, poultry, and dairy products that” are not “properly cooled,” said ABC Action News.

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