Com­mon­est causes of food poi­son­ing

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health Food -

■ Cam­plobac­ter is the most com­mon bac­te­rial cause of food poi­son­ing. It is mainly spread through con­sump­tion of un­der­cooked chicken or pork, con­tam­i­nated wa­ter, un­pas­teurised milk or direct con­tact with in­fected do­mes­tic or farm an­i­mals. Fol­low­ing an in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod of 3-5 days, symp­toms will in­clude ab­dom­i­nal pain, di­ar­rhoea (of­ten bloody) with nau­sea and fever. There is usu­ally no vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea may con­tinue for up to 10 days.

■ E.coli 0157 is one of a large group of bac­te­ria called Escherichia coli (E.coli for short). It is a harm­less germ in cat­tle but can cause se­ri­ous dis­ease in hu­mans. It is spread through the fae­ces of an­i­mals. Any meat, veg­eta­bles, milk or wa­ter that has been con­tam­i­nated by an­i­mal fae­ces can con­tain E.coli 0157. The symp­toms of E. coli food poi­son­ing are ab­dom­i­nal pain, cramps, nau­sea, vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea with blood. Usu­ally, there isn’t a fever. Most peo­ple re­cover with­out an­tibi­otics or other spe­cific treat­ment in 5-10 days.

■ Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes is a bac­te­ria that causes mild flu-like symp­toms, how­ever it can cause se­vere ill­ness for preg­nant women, un­born ba­bies, new ba­bies and peo­ple who have se­ri­ous ill­nesses al­ready.

Lis­te­ria can live in meat, milk, but­ter, cream, yo­gurt and veg­eta­bles. The four sim­ple rules to pre­vent food poi­son­ing (see main article) are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to avoid lis­te­ria.

■ Sal­mo­nella is a bac­terium found on raw meats, poul­try, eggs and in un­pas­teurised milk. It can be trans­ferred from raw to cooked food by hand or con­tact with kitchen sur­faces and equip­ment.

The symp­toms of sal­mo­nella food poi­son­ing are di­ar­rhoea, cramps, vom­it­ing and fever.

The time be­tween con­tact and ill­ness (ie the in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod) is usu­ally be­tween 12 and 36 hours.

A stool sam­ple is needed for ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis and se­vere symp­toms may re­quire hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion.

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