Our Food Poisoning Main Article provides a comprehensive look at the who, what, when and how of Food Poisoning
Definition of Foodborne disease
Foodborne disease: A disease caused by consuming contaminated food or drink. Myriad microbes and toxic substances can contaminate foods. There are more then 250 known foodborne diseases. The majority are infectious and are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Other foodborne diseases are essentially poisonings caused by toxins, chemicals contaminating the food. All foodborne microbes and toxins enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract and often causes the first symptoms there. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are frequent in foodborne diseases.
Many microbes can spread in more than one way, so it may not be immediately evident that a disease is foodborne. The distinction matters, because public health authorities need to know how a particular disease is spreading to take the appropriate steps to stop it. For example, infections with Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) can be acquired through contaminated food, contaminated drinking water, contaminated swimming water, and from toddler to toddler at a day care center. Depending on which means of spread cause a case, the measures to stop other cases from occurring could range from removing contaminated food from stores, chlorinating a swimming pool, or closing a child day care center.
The most common foodborne infections are caused by three bacteria -- Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7 -- and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, better known as Norwalk-like virus:
Common diseases that are usually transmitted by other routes are occasionally foodborne. These include infections caused by Shigella, hepatitis A, and the parasites Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidia. Even strep may be occasionally transmitted through food.
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