Food poisoning is a very common illness that occurs when people eat foods or drink water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, heavy metals, or bacteria toxins (toxins produced from the bacteria). Young children and the elderly are the most susceptible to food poisoning because of their weaker immune systems. Those with compromised immune systems (for example those with AIDS) also have a higher change of getting food poisoining. Symptoms of food poisoning are usually mild, but they can also be severe and even deadly.
The contamination of food can happen during the growing, harvesting, processing, storage, or preparation of food. Generally, the bacteria, toxins, viruses, and toxins are transferred to the food from external sources. Less commonly, the toxin is already inside the food (such as poisonous fish or mushrooms).
Many bacteria can cause food poisoning. Common ones include Salmonella, E. Coli, Staphylococcus, and C. Botulinum. These are often found in undercooked poultry, eats, dairy, fish, and contaminated water.
Viruses, such as the famous Norovirus, can cause food poisoning. Contaminated raw or uncooked shellfish and produce usually cause this type of food poisoning. Parasites can cause food poisoning through contaminated produce and water. Shellfish and mushrooms may be naturally poisonous. Some mushrooms contain poisons that attack the central nervous system, which can cause permanent paralysis.
Below is a list of common symptoms of food poisoning and its sources:
Campylobacter jejuni is a pathogen found in raw milk, beef, poultry, river, raw clams and contaminated water. It causes diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, anorexia, severe abdominal pain, headaches, and vomiting.
Clostridium botulinum causes a toxin found in canned foods, garlic and oil mixtures, and vacuum packed fish. It causes vertigo, difficulties swallowing, breathing, and speaking, double vision, and respiratory paralysis. This toxin is often fatal.
Escherichia coli is found in contaminated water, any undercooked animal-sourced foods, and soft unpasteurized cheese. The most common strain found in North America is O157:H7.
Hepatitis A is found in shellfish, contaminated water, and any foods contaminated with feces, or urine or blood of people that are infected with it. It causes fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
Listeria monocytogenes is found in unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, undercooked poultry, unwashed raw vegetables. It’s important to avoid drinking raw milk because it can potentially contain harmful bacteria. This type of infection causes nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, fever, and constipation.
Norovirus is found in contaminated food and water as well as surfaces. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Salmonella is found in poultry, meat, meat products, eggs, egg products, and foods contaminated feces. It can cause fever, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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