Food poisoning occurs upon consumption of food that is contaminated with bacteria, parasites or toxins. Mild food poisoning is usually not a cause of great worry, and it just takes some time to go away, with symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. However, severe food poisoning can pose a serious health risk and in some cases it can even be fatal.
The most often observed types of food poisoning are salmonella, shigella, campylobacter and E. coli poisoning.
Salmonella poisoning is the most commonly seen type of food poisoning. These bacteria are found in raw cow milk and in intestinal organs of cows, pigs and dogs. Meat, milk and eggs can easily become a source of salmonella infection if they are not properly cooked or refrigerated. Salmonella can become epidemic when many people are eating from the same source of food, and it is often seen in kindergartens, schools, cafeterias and restaurants with poor standards of hygiene. The good news is that the recovery after this infection is usually very short.
Shigella is the bacteria found in the intestines of humans and apes. It is spread due to poor personal hygiene, especially because of importer washing of the hands after contact with fecal matter. The symptoms of shigella infection include bloody stool, diarrhea and cramps. In most cases the symptoms start a day or two after the contamination and last from five to seven days. In severe cases certain symptoms, like diarrhea, may persist for months. Shigella is treated with antibiotics.
Campylobacter food poisoning is commonly associated with poultry products. The infection occurs as a result of eating raw or undercooked poultry or because of safe meat-handling standards not being followed, for example if storage units where poultry is kept are not cleaned properly. The most efficient way to avoid this type of food poisoning is to cook all poultry products thoroughly, since the bacteria cannot survive at high temperatures. Campylobacter food poisoning is generally treated with antimicrobial agents.
E. coli or Escherichia coli are one of the most common food-borne illnesses. These bacteria can be absolutely harmless and they make up to 1% of all the bacteria normally found in the human intestines. However, certain strains of these bacteria can cause serious damage to the health. One of those strains, the O-157, produces a toxin that causes bloody diarrhea, and in severe cases, kidney failure. The main source of E. coli is undercooked or unsanitary ground beef, but it can also occur after drinking unpasteurized milk or apple juice, or after eating raw vegetables. The infection usually goes away in five to ten days.