About Foodbourne Illness

Most foodborne microorganisms take approximately 1-3 days to cause symptoms. However, some can cause symptoms rapidly and some can take a week or more to cause symptoms. Any instance of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or headache lasting longer than 2 days should be reported to your physician. If you are concerned or have questions about your health, consult your healthcare professional. When you call or visit your doctor, be prepared to recount all the foods you have consumed over the past week or more.

Different Types of Food-Borne Illnesses

DISEASETYPICAL SYMPTOMSTYPICAL SOURCES
Salmonella Onset: 12-48 hours after eating. Nausea, fever, chills, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Illness lingers for several days. Antibiotics can be prescribed to speed recovery. Can be fatal to elderly, very young, and the immune impaired if not treated. Raw and undercooked meats, poultry, fish, milk, cut melons. The bacteria can arrive at the store already on the food or the food can be contaminated be an infected food handler.
Staph Food Poisoning Onset: 1-8 hours after eating. Nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, (usually explosive in nature), followed by rapid recovery. Person usually recovers without medical treatment. Antibiotics are ineffective. Meats, poultry, egg products, tuna, potato, & macaroni salad, cream filled pastry. Food handlers usually contaminate these products since the major reservoir for Staph is human skin, nose and mouth. Cooking will not destroy the illness-causing agent (a toxin).
E. coli 0157:H7 Onset: 12-72 hours after eating. Fever, cramps, watery diarrhea leading to rapid and severe dehydration. Medical treatment is usually necessary to cure, complications are common (kidney failure) and can lead to death especially in the very young, elderly and the immune impaired. Any type of food which has been contaminated by the organism. The bacteria are found in animal intestinal tracts and in an infected human’s intestinal tract. Past outbreaks have involved undercooked beef, cut melons, and apple cider.
Listeriosis Onset: 2-30 days after eating. Fever headache, nausea, vomiting, can cause miscarriages in pregnant women. Ice cream, soft cheeses, and other dairy products, seafood, cooked & frozen crabmeat, cooked shrimp, cooked imitation crabmeat, cold cuts, hot dogs.
Hepatitis A Onset: 15-50 days after eating. Fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, yellowing of the skin and eyes, darkened urine. Medical attention usually necessary to stop the progression of the disease. Can lead to liver damage and death. Raw & undercooked seafood, dairy products, sliced luncheon meat, salads, fruits. Contamination mainly occurs via sewage contamination or by an infected food handler.
Perfringens Onset: 8-22 hours after eating. Sudden abdominal pain and diarrhea, sometimes nausea and vomiting. Symptoms are mild and usually last a day or less. People typically do not seek medical attention. Antibiotics are ineffective. Roasts, stews, gravies, beef, poultry (especially left leftovers). Cooking may not always destroy the illness- causing agent (a toxin produced by the bacteria). The bacteria are common in the environment.
Shigella Onset: 1-7 days after eating. Abdominal pain, cramps, bloody & watery diarrhea, fever, sometimes vomiting. Lasts several days. Antibiotics are typically prescribed. Dairy products, produce, and any moist food, especially mixed salads (e.g. potato salad) contaminated by flies or by a human carrier.
Campylobacter Onset: 2-5 days after eating. Diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, abdominal cramps. Lasts 2-7 days. Antibiotics often prescribed. Poultry, beef, unpasturized milk, pork. The bacteria can arrive at the store on the food, or the food can be contaminated by an infected food handler.
Bacillus cereus Onset: 1-18 hours after eating. Abdominal pain and diarrhea or nausea and vomiting. Lasts less than a day. People may not be likely to seek medical treatment. Cereal products, rice, pasta, custards, cream pies, bakery products, soups, gravies, and sauces. The bacteria are common in the environment and can easily contaminate food.
Clostridium Botulinum Onset: 12-36 hours after eating. Dizziness, double vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing, headache. Lasts several days to a year. Improperly canned and vacuum packaged foods.
Ciguatoxin Onset: 15 minutes to 24 hours after eating. Vertigo, hot/cold flashes, diarrhea, vomiting. Marine fin fish including grouper, barracuda, snapper, jack, mackerel, triggerfish and reel fish.
Scombrotoxin Onset: 1 to 30 minutes after eating. Dizziness, burning feeling in the mouth, facial rash or hives, peppery taste in mouth, headache, itching, teary eyes, runny nose. Tuna, mahi mahi, bluefish, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, amberjack, abalone.
Norwalk Virus Onset: 24-48 hours after eating. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, mild fever. Lasts 24-60 hours Raw or undercooked shellfish, very contagious from infected food workers. Most cases are from infected food workers contaminating ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches and salads