A gastrointestinal disease, Staphylococcal food poisoning is caused due to the ingestion of a toxic bacterium, Staph. While Staphylococcus Aureus is often found on the skin and in the nose of approximately 25% of healthy individuals, its ability to produce toxins in certain conditions can lead to a swift onset of food poisoning symptoms such as cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Staphylococcal food poisoning is usually a result of eating contaminated or raw food. Keep reading to learn more about Staphylococcus Aureus food poisoning.
Causes of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacterium that naturally resides on human skin and mucous membranes. However, under certain conditions, Staphylococcus Aureus produces heat-stable toxins that can trigger food poisoning symptoms. The toxins are produced when the food is stored at improper temperatures [above 60 °C (140 °F)) or below 4 °C (40 °F))].
Most Staphylococcal food poisoning cases are a result of eating contaminated egg products, meats, poultry, macaroni, potato, chicken, tuna, egg, salads, sandwich fillings, dairy products, milk, and bakery products like chocolate éclairs, cream pies, and pastries.
Individuals at high risk of Staphylococcal food poisoning include injection drug users, breastfeeding mothers, neonates, people with open wounds, burns, or suffering from influenza, diabetes mellitus, chronic skin disorder, tumors, and leukemia.
Symptoms of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
The symptoms of Staphylococcal food poisoning often surface between 30 minutes – 8 hours after ingesting contaminated food. Common Staphylococcal food poisoning symptoms include:
● Nausea and Vomiting: In most Staphylococcal food poisoning cases, nausea is the first symptom, followed by vomiting. It can be sudden and severe and can cause dehydration and discomfort.
● Headache and Muscle Pain: These symptoms are accompanied by gastrointestinal discomfort and can make you feel weak.
● Fever: Even though rarely, some people may experience low-grade fever.
● Diarrhea: Some individuals may experience loose or water stools.
● Abdominal Cramps: Intense abdominal cramps are another hallmark of Staphylococcal food poisoning. These cramps can be painful and distressing.
Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning | Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing Staphylococcal Food Poisoning is often based on the presenting symptoms and a thorough clinical history. Healthcare providers may also request stool samples to rule out other potential causes of foodborne illnesses. It’s important for individuals to seek medical attention if they experience severe symptoms, especially if vomiting and diarrhea lead to dehydration.
According to healthcare providers, there is no set treatment for Staphylococcal food poisoning. In fact, you simply have to get sufficient rest and wait for the symptoms to resolve on their own. Here are some tips for managing Staphylococcal food poisoning symptoms and preventing complications:
● Hydration: Rehydration is crucial to counteract the fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhea. Drinking clear fluids, electrolyte solutions, and oral rehydration solutions can help maintain electrolyte balance.
● Rest: Adequate rest is necessary to allow the body to recover and heal from the illness.
● Avoiding Solid Foods: During the acute phase of the illness, avoiding solid foods and sticking to a bland diet can help reduce gastrointestinal tract irritation.
● Medical Attention: In severe cases, or if symptoms do not improve after a reasonable period, seeking medical attention is important to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment.
How Can You Prevent Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning?
Preventing Staphylococcal food poisoning largely revolves around proper food handling and storage practices:
● Shop Safely: When grocery shopping, make sure to keep fish, poultry, and raw meat separately from other items. Also, don’t let the raw food sit in your car for hours. Try to go home and store it properly.
● Hand Hygiene: Observing hand hygiene is essential, especially for individuals handling food. Thoroughly washing hands with water and soap before cooking or eating helps bring down the risk of contamination.
● Cooking: Foods should be cooked to their recommended internal temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure the food is cooked properly.
● Storage: Refrigerate perishable foods promptly to prevent bacterial growth. Ideally, cooked food shouldn’t be kept outside the refrigerator for over two hours.
● Avoid Cross-Contamination: Keep raw and cooked foods separate, using separate utensils and cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination.
● Temperature Control: Foods should be kept at safe temperatures – hot foods hot (above 140°F or 60°C) and cold foods cold (below 40°F or 4°C).
● Swift Consumption: Consume cooked foods promptly and avoid leaving them at room temperature for extended periods, which can promote bacterial growth.
● Avoid Cooking: Don’t cook food if you are suffering from diarrhea.
● Read Food Labels Thoroughly: Food packaging labels have one purpose; to provide you with information related to the ingredients, usage, and storage. Make sure to read and understand food labels before purchasing any kind of packed or canned food.
● Don’t Eat If in Doubt: Do you have a dusty corn can on the back of your kitchen’s shelf? Try to find the expiry date; if you don’t and have doubts, throw the can. Eating contaminated food is the primary cause of Staphylococcal food poisoning. Remember that even though some foods may look and smell good, they might not be safe to consume.
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