Germs to Know

Campylobacter jejuni

Name of Illness: Campylobacteriosis

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 2-5 days

Symptoms: Diarrhea (watery, sticky or can contain blood), abdominal pain, nausea, fever, headache and muscle pain.

Possible Sources: Raw poultry and meat, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water

Prevention tips: Cook food thoroughly. Wash your hands before handling food. Use only pasteurized milk products. Avoid cross-contamination by washing hands, cutting boards, and knives after preparing raw foods and prior to preparing other foods. Drink water only from potable (safe for drinking) sources.

Special Note: Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the U.S.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book

Cyclospora cayetanenis

Name of Illness: Cyclosporiasis

Microorganism Type: Parasite

Incubation Period: 2-7 days

Symptoms: Watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, fatigue, weight loss

Possible Sources: Ingestion of food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person or animal. Several outbreaks have been linked to produce. The produce becomes contaminated by an infected person or contaminated water.

Prevention tips: Good hygienic practices by thoroughly washing your hands, especially before preparing food. Avoidance of ingesting contaminated food or water. Wash, peel, or cook raw fruits and vegetables before eating. Do not use untreated manure to fertilize fruits and vegetables.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FSIS page entitled Parasites and Foodborne Illness

Escherichia Coli 0157:H7

Name of Illness: Hemorrhagic colitis

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 2-8 days

Symptoms: Abdominal pain, diarrhea (often bloody), nausea, vomiting.

Possible Sources: Undercooked ground beef, sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk, juice, and cheeses, and fecal contaminated water and food.

Prevention tips: Cook food thoroughly. Cook ground beef to at least 160°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the final cooking temperature of ground beef. Wash your hands before handling food. Avoid cross-contamination by washing hands, cutting boards, and knives after preparing raw foods and prior to preparing other foods. Make sure children and toddlers wash their hands after using the bathroom. Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, or cider. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Drink water only from potable (safe for drinking) sources.

Special Note: Can cause a severe infection especially with children under 5 years of age, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. The infection can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book

Listeria monocytogenes

Name of Illness: Listeriosis

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 2 days to 3 weeks

Symptoms: Initial symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and possibly nausea or diarrhea. The nervous system can be affected if the infections spreads.

Possible Sources: Poultry, eggs, meat, processed meat products, cheese and milk products and even vegetables.

Prevention tips: Cook food thoroughly (even processed meats like hot dogs). Wash your hands before handling food. Use only pasteurized milk products. Wash produce thoroughly. Avoid cross-contamination by washing hands, cutting boards, and knives after preparing raw foods and prior to preparing other foods.

Special Note: Listeria affects primarily pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Could cause premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or miscarriage.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book

Salmonella

Name of Illness: Salmonellosis

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 6 to 48 hours

Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache.

Possible Sources: Meats, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products. Contaminated produce has also been found to be a source.

Prevention tips: Cook food thoroughly and use only pasteurized milk products. Wash your hands before handling food. Wash produce thoroughly. Avoid cross-contamination by washing hands, cutting boards, and knives after preparing raw foods and prior to preparing other foods.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book

Shigella

Name of Illness: Shigellosis

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 1 to 7 days

Symptoms: Abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, bloody stools, fever, vomiting

Possible Sources: Salads, milk and dairy products, raw oysters, ground beef, poultry, and unclean water. Food becomes contaminated by contacting unclean water or by unsanitary food handling practices. Person-to-person contact is also a leading cause of acquiring the infection.

Prevention tips: The spread of Shigella from an infected person to other persons can be controlled by frequent and careful handwashing with soap. Infected people should not prepare food or drinks until they are to no longer carrying the Shigella bacterium. Basic food safety - washing fruits and vegetables with clean water, thoroughly cooking food, handwashing - prevents shigellosis.

Special Note: Daycares can be a source of acquiring shigellosis. Proper diaper changing procedures and handwashing are very important for prevention.

More information: Centers for Disease Control's web site or the FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book

Staphylococcus aureus

Name of Illness: Staphylococcal food poisoning

Microorganism Type: Bacterial

Incubation Period: 1-6 hours

Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, retching, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and prostration.

Possible Sources: Foods that require considerable handling during preparation and not kept at proper temperatures are frequently involved with this illness. These foods can be meat and meat products; poultry and egg products; salads such as egg, tuna, chicken, potato, and macaroni; bakery products such as cream-filled pastries, cream pies, and chocolate eclairs; sandwich fillings; and milk and dairy products.

Prevention tips: Although staphylococci can be found in food or on food surfaces, the main reservoir for this bacteria are humans and animals. Good hand washing practices before and during food preparation is very important. Cleaning kitchen counters and food equipment is also important. Also, properly protect food during preparation and storage.

Special Note: The staphylococcal food poisoning illness is caused by toxins present in contaminated food, not the bacteria. Staphylococci produce the toxin that cause the illness. Heating food can kill the bacteria, but not the toxin it may have already produced. For this reason, it is important to prevent food contamination.

More information: FDA/CFSAN's The Bad Bug Book