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Staphylococcus aureus is one of the bacteria normally found in the nose and on the skin of many people and animals. Some types of bacterium have the ability to produce several different toxins, responsible for food poisoning. A person can get infected by eating the food contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus toxins, either by contaminated milk and dairy products or by contact with infected people working with these foods.

The food which can easily be contaminated with this bacterium is one prepared by hand, especially pastries, sandwiches, pudding or sliced meat. However, Staphylococcus aureus is known to grow even in salted meat and bacterial toxins can’t be destroyed by cooking the contaminated food.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

People infected with Staphylococcus aureus toxins usually experience first symptoms very quickly after eating contaminated food. It usually takes 1 to 6 hours after the meal until the person start experiencing: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Most cases of food poisoning don’t require any treatment and resolve on their own, after a day or two, but some people might be having severe problems due to the Staphylococcus food poisoning. Patients may have problems with severe fluid and electrolyte deficiencies, due to the vomiting and/or diarrhea, leading to the weakness and shock (hypotension). Children, elderly and people affected by some chronic illnesses are found more likely to have serious problems with this food poisoning. The condition might be so severe to cause lethal consequences.

You shouldn’t worry if someone around you is sick from this type of poisoning, since the toxins can’t harm you and the condition is not contagious.

How to Prevent and Treat

The most important thing is to prevent the contamination of food with Staphylococcus aureus, even before the bacterium start to produce harmful toxins. Avoid preparing the food if you have any eye, nose or skin infections or skin wounds. Always wash your hands before handling the food. Your kitchen and dining room should always be sanitized and clean.

The treatment includes resting and plenty of fluids in cases where the bacteria don’t cause any serious problems. Your doctor may also prescribe you some medications (injections or suppositories) in order to calm your stomach, and control vomiting or nauseous feeling. Severe cases might be treated in the hospital with some intravenous therapy, especially if the patients are children or elderly. The loss of fluids because of the vomiting and diarrhea is most commonly compensated by intravenous fluids. Antibiotics don’t work against this bacterium, because they don’t affect the Staphylococcus toxins.

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