Food poisoning occurs when you eat or drink something that is contaminated with harmful bacteria or viruses. Almost one in six people in the world experience such a problem every year, but in most cases it is a mild condition that resolves with rest and drinking plenty of water. However, some severe cases require medical attention.
Here are four of the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning, along with ways to treat and prevent infections.
Food poisoning – what is campylobacteriosis?
Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals, especially poultry such as chicken and turkey. Campylobacter can be contracted from eating undercooked poultry or shellfish, from contaminated drinking water, from infected people or animals. This is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the world.
Usually, the first symptoms of the disease develop within two to five days after infection. Thereafter, symptoms last two to ten days and include:
- diarrhea, which may be bloody;
- stomach cramps;
- high temperature.
How to treat campylobacteriosis?
Most people with this diagnosis will recover on their own, without special treatment. It is important to provide the patient with adequate hydration and maintain electrolyte balance in the body. Improvement in general condition occurs in about a week.
If there is no improvement after a week, antibiotics may be needed. Therefore, if there are serious symptoms (bloody diarrhea and high fever), and if the condition does not improve, you should consult a doctor.
How to Prevent Campylobacter Infection
Since the main source is poultry, it is extremely important to carefully follow the rules for its preparation.
To avoid campylobacter poisoning:
- thoroughly wash chicken or other poultry before cooking, be sure to wash your hands with soap afterward;
- make sure you cook poultry at the right temperature, do not eat raw meat;
- Wash any utensils you use to handle raw meat in hot, soapy water.
Food poisoning – what is salmonella?
Salmonella is another of the most common causes of food poisoning. It is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and animals and can be found in many types of food. Raw fruits, vegetables, eggs, and all types of meat can be sources of salmonella.
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food and can last up to a week. Some of the most common salmonella symptoms are:
- stomach cramps;
Salmonella is not usually treated with antibiotics. An intravenous infusion of fluids is sufficient if the person is dehydrated, as well as medicines for nausea if the patient is suffering from vomiting.
But in some serious cases, where patients have a high fever and severe dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea, they are treated with antibiotics for a week. Antibiotics are more likely to be needed in people with weakened immune systems or older patients. A prerequisite for the use of antibiotics may also be severe abdominal pain, lethargy, or other symptoms that do not go away. In this case, you should seek medical help.
How to Prevent Salmonella Infection
The best way to avoid salmonella infection is to avoid eating raw meat and eggs. Salmonella can also be present on fruits and vegetables, so they should always be washed before eating.
Food poisoning – what is E. coli?
Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and animals and helps digest food. While some strains of E. coli are beneficial, others can cause disease and even be life-threatening.
E. coli can be contracted by eating contaminated foods, such as ground beef, unpasteurized milk, and fresh herbs such as spinach and lettuce. Symptoms of E. coli poisoning usually appear within 1 to 10 days.
The most common symptoms of E. coli:
- severe and sometimes bloody diarrhea;
- abdominal pain.
Treatment of E. coli infection
Treatment of an E. coli infection usually does not require a visit to the doctor and does not require antibiotics. The fact is that antibiotics can aggravate the symptoms of an infection. The reason is that when the E. coli bacteria die off quickly, they can release large amounts of toxins.
Instead, doctors put saline on a drip if the patient is dehydrated. Patients usually recover within 5-7 days.
In some cases, E. coli can cause a life-threatening kidney disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Common symptoms of HUS are less frequent urination, dark urine, and a pale face. If these symptoms appear, you should immediately seek medical help.
How to prevent E. coli infection
To avoid E. coli infection, always cook meat thoroughly and avoid raw milk. E. coli can also be found on the surface of raw fruits and vegetables, so it’s always important to wash foods before eating.
Food Poisoning – What is Listeria?
Listeria poisoning is usually caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. They live in many environments, including water, soil, and animal feces. The most common routes of infection for Listeria are through food:
- soft cheeses such as brie or questo fresco;
- meat delicacies or semi-finished products;
- raw milk;
- fruits and vegetables.
After eating food contaminated with Listeria, symptoms may appear within a week, but in some cases their development is delayed for months. The symptoms of Listeria are usually diarrhea and fever.
Listeria – treatment
Most cases of listeriosis are mild and do not require treatment. Patients usually feel better after a few days. But you should exercise extreme caution to pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems.
If you are pregnant and have had listeria, you should be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible so that the infection does not affect the baby. Pregnant women may suffer from fatigue, fever and muscle pain.
How to prevent listeria infection
People at risk should not consume any products without heat treatment. For the rest, it is enough to follow the usual precautions – carefully cook the meat and wash your hands when working with products.
Most cases of food poisoning are relatively mild and usually resolve within a few days. If symptoms worsen or last longer than a week, see your doctor.