Staph aureus food poisoning occurs when an individual eat foods contaminated by the toxins produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This bacteria can be found in the air, in dust, in water, in sewage, on sufaces, on humans, and on animals. The same bacteria is responsible for staph infections, which can cause a range of complications from minor skin infections to life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia, menengitis, septecemia, and Toxic shock syndrome.
Exotoxins secreted by the Staph aureus bacteria are poisonous to humans when present in significant amounts. Food poisoning occurs when food contaminated by the bacteria is left out for long periods of time, allowing the amount of bacteria to grow and produce more exotoxin. This type of food poisoning is common in the US, with outbreaks normally occurring at large social functions, picnics, and school cafeterias.
The most common method of food contamination comes from food preparers with infected eyes, fingers, boils, or nasal secretions. The bacteria can rapidly multiply in the food, producing a toxin that cannot be eliminated by cooking. Large quantities of the bacteria can be present in food without any indication of food spoilage. The most commonly contaminated foods include potato salad, egg salad, sandwiches, salad dressings, custards, and cream filled pastries.
Symptoms indicating the onset of Staph aureus food poisoning are usually rapid, acute, and dramatic. Symptoms can appear as soon as 30 minutes after eating the offending food and can last anywhere from hours to days. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of contaminated food eaten, the level of toxin present in the food, and the general health of the individual affected.
Individuals experiencing Staph aureus food poisoning will have sudden, severe nausea accompanied by vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. In severe cases, individuals may experience headache, changes in blood pressure, changing pulse rate, and/or muscle cramping.
Staph aureus food poisoning can lead to rapid weight loss and depletion of muscle tissue. Once the infection is resolved, it could take months to recover fully from a severe case of Staph aureus food poisoning. Severe dehydration may occur, as well as intestinal bleeding which causes bloody stools or bloody diarrhea.
Incidences of Staph aureus food poisoning resulting in death are rare, but have been known to occur. Individuals at the highest risk of dying from this type of food poisoning include infants, the elderly, individuals with serious medical conditions, and people with weakened immune systems.
The treatment for cases of Staph aureus food poisoning includes the rehydration of the individual affected by replacing the fluids and electrolytes loss through diarrhea and vomiting. Patients unable to take fluids by mouth due to excessive vomiting will need to have their fluids replaced intravenously.
Antidiarrheal medications are not needed in most cases and antibiotics do nothing to help the course of the illness. Full recovery within 48 hours is expected for most individuals.
Staph aureus food poisoning is considered one of the most common types of food poisoning in the world today. The number of individuals affected by Staph aureus food poisoning is unknown due to the misdiagnosis of the illness, since a number of types of food poisoning exhibit similar symptoms. Poor responses from the affected individuals during interviews with healthcare professionals are another reason, as many individuals are unaware of what has caused their illness.
The Information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. If you feel that you or someone you know has food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately by visiting your doctor of by dialing 911.
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