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Food Poisoning - Symptom, treatment, causes, diagnosis and home remedies of food poisoning
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control about 76 million people per year in the U.S. will suffer from food poisoning. Of those, 5000 will die. Some forms of food poisoning turn into a condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and this can damage blood vessels, create kidney failure, strokes, coma or blindness.
A common flu-like illness typically characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, due to something the victim ate or drank that contained noxious bacteria, viruses, parasites, metals or toxins. Food poisoning is an acute gastro- enteritis caused by ingestion of food or drink contaminated with either living bacteria or their toxins or inorganic chemicals substances and poisons derived from plants and animals. The condition is characterized by history of ingestion of a common food. Attack of many persons at the same time and similarity of signs and symptoms in the majority of cases.
Types of food poisoning
Food poisoning may be of two types:-
- Bacterial food poisoning:- caused by the ingestion of foods contaminated by living bacteria of their toxins. The conventional classification of bacterial food poisoning into toxic and infective types is becoming increasingly blurred with the knowledge that in some types, both multiplication and toxin production are involved.
- Non- Bacterial food poisoning:- it is caused by chemicals such as arsenic, certain plant and sea foods. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about contamination of food and chemicals e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, cadmium, mercury etc.
Causes of food poisoning
Sometimes, articles of food cause toxic reactions. This is toxicity, in general, is caused by the following factors:-
- The food may be naturally toxic e.g. poisonous mushrooms, toxic fish etc.
- Toxicity may be imposed upon the food material by the polluted environment e.g. contamination of fish by mercury from industrial effluents, infection of oysters by Salmonella due to fecal contamination.
- Allergy to the food materials.
- Contamination of food during collection, transportaion, storage, cooking or serving by:-
- Chemicals( accidental of by addition of adulterants ).
- Microbial agents: bacteria, viruses, protozoa.
- Preformed toxins contaminating the food articles.
Types of Bacterial food poisoning
- Salmonella Food Poisoning:- Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called Salmonella. The causative organisms, on ingestion, multiply in the intestine and give rise to acute enteritis and colitis. The person is generally sudden with chills, fever, nausea, vomiting and profuse waterly diarrhea which usually lasts 2-3 days. Salmonellosis is primarily a disease of animals. Man get infected from farm animals and poultry- through contaminated meat, milk and milk products, sausages, custards, egg and egg products. Rats and mice are another source. They are often heavily infected and contaminate foodstuffs by their urine and faeces. The incubation period of salmonella food poisoning is 12 to 24 hours commonly.
- Staphylococcal Food Poisoning:- staphylococci are ubiquitous in nature, and are found on the skin and in the nose and throat of men and animals. They are common agent of boils and pyogenic infection of men and animals. Cows suffering from mastitis have been responsible for outbreaks of food poisoning involving mils and milk products. The food involved are salads, custards, milk and milk products which get contaminated by staphylococci. The incubation period is generally 1-6 hours it is short because of performed toxin.
- Cereus food poisoning:- Bacillus cereus id an aerobic, spore- bearing, motile, gram positive rod. Is is unbiquitous in soil and in raw, dried and processed foods. The spores can survive cooking and germinate and multiply rapidly when the food is held at favourable temperature.
Symptoms of food poisoning
The most common symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, watery stools, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Most food poisoning symptoms are mild, however, and can safely be treated at home.
Diagnosis of Food poisoning
- They occur in small outbreaks in several persons who have shared a common meal. All the person who have partaken of the food should be interviewed. They may be supplied questionnaires concerning the food eaten during the previous 2 days and place of consumption. Questionnaire may be administerd to kitchen employees and those working in the dining halls.
- Laboratory test is an important part to diagnose food poisoning. The object is not only to incriminate the causative agent of stool,vomit or remnants of food by inoculating into appropriate media, but to also determine the total number of bacteria and the relative numbers of each kind involved. This will give a better indication employees and food handlers should also be investigated.
- Blood for antibodies is useful for restrospective diagnosis.
- The data should be analysed according to the descriptive methods of time, place and person distribution. Food- specific attack rates should be calculated. A case control study may be undertaken to establish the epidemiologic association between illness and the intake of a particular food.
Prevention and control in food poisoning
- Meat inspection:- the food animals must be free from inspection. This can be ensured by their examination by veterinary staff both before and after slaughter.
- Personal hygiene:- a high standard of personal hygiene among individuals engaged in the handling, preparation and cooking of food is needed.
- Food handlers:- those suffering from infected wounds, boils, diarrhea, dysentery, throat infection, etcshould be excluded from food handling. The medical inspection of food handlers is required in many countries.
- Food handling techniques:- the handling of ready to eat foods with bare hands should be reduced to a minimum. Time between preparation of food and consumption should be kept short. The importance of rapid cooling and cold storage must be stressed. Milk, milk products and egg products should be pasteurized. Food must be thoroughly cooked. The heat must penetrate the centre of the food leaving thereby no cool spots. Most food poisoning germs are killed at temperature over 60º deg. C.
- Food samples must be obtained from the food establishments periodically and subjected to laboratory analysis if they were unsatisfactory. Continuing surveillance is necessary to avoid outbreaks of food- borne diseases.
Treatment of food poisoning
- Do not eat solid food while nauseous or vomiting but drink plenty of fluids.
- Small, frequent sips of clear liquids (those you can see through) are the best way to stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary drinks, if possible. Over-the-counter rehydration products made for children such as Pedialyte and Rehydralyte are expensive but good to use if available.
- Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are fine for adults if they are diluted with water because at full strength they contain too much sugar, which can worsen diarrhea.
Home remedies of Food Poisoning
- Eat a few slices of plain bread (no jelly, butter, or jam) when you have food poisoning. It will soak up the poison for quick relief.
- Mix a tablespoon of lemon or cider vinegar in a cup of hot water before a meal to prevent acid indigestion.