Top 10 Food Borne Illnesses

According to the National Digestive Information Clearinghouse, 76 million people in the US are affected by Food Borne Illnesses. Out of the 70 million people affected, 5000 die from renal failures and food poisoning caused by the illnesses. If you feel excessive abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, you may have one of the following ten food borne illnesses.
1. E-coli:

E-coli (or Ecoli 0157: H7) is a bacteria that lives in human and animal intestines which produces Shiga toxins that lead to illnesses in humans. Although it is commonly found in cows, chickens, deer, sheep and pig are also known to carry it. Major sources of the bacteria are food, water, animals and people. Although the disease usually goes away within 1 week, it causes kidney failure when left untreated.
Notable Incidents: Walkerton, ON (2000)-7 deaths; Germany (2011)-35 deaths as of June 15, 2011


2. Listeria:

Although Listeria bacteria are mostly found in food, it has been present in vegetation, water, sewage and faeces of humans and animals as well. It mostly affects pregnant women, the elderly and those who have weak immune systems. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, pregnant women are 20% more likely to be affected by the Listeria bacteria. Some of the consequences of the disease are brain problems which lead to deaths. Major signs of listeria include vomiting, cramps, fever, diarrhoea and severe headaches.
Notable Incidents: Maple Leaf Incident (2008)-23 deaths; 57 ill


3. Mad Cow Disease:

This food borne illness is caused by a neurological virus in a cow that degenerates the brain and spinal cord. It is easily transmitted to humans. If infected through digestion, humans can carry the human equivalent: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). According to Health Canada statistics there have 180 cases of Mad Cow Disease since the 1990s. Between 2003 and 2008, there were 8.
Notable Incidents: Alberta (2003), Great Britain (2009)-166 people affected


4. Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis A is the inflammation in the liver caused by alcohol, medicine, chemicals and poison. It could be caused by food that was previously touched by a person affected with the virus. Uncooked and raw shellfish exposed to sewage also is a major source of the virus. It usually heals within 1 week without any long term damage. With vaccines and excellent anti-bodies, Hepatitis A incidents have decreased.
Notable Incidents: Regions such as Africa and Asia, where sanitation is poor or absence, Hepatitis A still prevails.


5. Salmonella:

This parasite and bacteria found in animal, bird and human intestines is another prevalent food borne illness. The major symptom of Salmonella is fever which arises 24 to 72 after coming into contact with contaminated food. There are three major ways to spread it: 1) person to person; 2) animal to person; 3) food coming into contact with people. There have been cases of it in raw poultry, dog treats and shrimp.
Notable Incidents: Canada and United States (2009)-400 in USA affected and 1 in Canada


6. Norwalk Virus:

This food borne illness is a common food borne illness which causes small gastrointestinal problems. It is never diagnoses because there are not tests that could diagnose it. Major symptoms are nausea, fever, head ache and diarrhea. These symptoms mostly disappear in 2 days.
Notable Incidents: London, England (2011); London, ON (2011)-4 cases


7. Clostridium perfringens

Known as the cafeteria germ, this food borne illness is also widespread and known. It is most commonly causes by consumed meats and meat products which have been left on steamers for long periods of time. Symptoms include cramps, nausea and diarrhea and which could last up to 1 day. One way to prevent this food borne illness is by keeping food away from room temperature where parasites and other bacteria love to grow.


8. Q Fever

This disease carries bacteria found in cattle, sheep, goats, cats, dogs and many other mammals. It usually is discovered after coming into contact with milk, urine, vaginal mucus and semen from animals. Symptoms may appear between 9 and 40 days after initial contact. Antibiotics usually are able to treat this food borne illness. Unpasteurized milk from any cow or sheep should not be drunk by anyone.
Notable Incidents: United States (2000-2004): mean of 51 cases


9. Brucella

This illness is caused by unsterilized and unpasteurized milk and meat products. It could easily transmit from mother to child and could cause excessive sweating and joint and muscle aches. Antibiotics are usually used to treat the illness. Individuals are advised by the ministries and departments of health to use hygiene when producing raw milk products. Cases will decline when individuals do not consume un-pastoralized milk products.
Notable Incidents: Belgium (2010)


10. Shigella:

This illness is caused by bacteria which infect the digestive tract which results in ulcers and swelling in the large intestine. Some symptoms of Shigella include diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, nausea and fever. It goes away on its own and mostly affects children between ages 2 and 4. Proper hand washing procedures can prevent Shigella outbreaks.

Medscape Magazine. “Q Fever. 1994-2011 Web. 20 June 2011.

“BSE (Mad Cow Disease) – Food Safety.” Welcome to the Health Canada Web Site | Bienvenue Au Site Web De Santé Canada. 19 Dec. 2007. Web. 20 June 2011. .

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