poisoning is a type of
food poisoning caused by infection with the
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)
bacterium. The bacteria multiply in foods and produce toxins especially if food is kept at room temperature. The toxins may be present in dangerous amounts in
foods that have no signs of spoilage, such as a bad smell.
Most people get
staph poisoning by eating contaminated food. The most common reason for
contamination is that the food has not been kept hot enough [140°F (60°C) or above] or cold enough
[40°F (4°C) or below].
Foods that are associated with staph food poisoning include:
Symptoms of staph food
poisoning include nausea, vomiting, retching, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
In more severe cases, dehydration, headache, muscle cramping, and changes in
blood pressure and pulse rate may occur.
Symptoms typically come on quickly. How severe they are depends on your
susceptibility to the toxin, how much contaminated
food you ate, how much of the toxin you ingested, and your general health. The
condition is typically over in 2 days. But it is not unusual for complete
recovery to take 3 days and sometimes longer in severe cases.
poisoning is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your
doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, your work and
home environments, and foods you have recently eaten and whether other people
have become ill from eating the same things. A stool culture and blood tests
may be done if your symptoms are severe or to rule out other causes.
You treat staph food poisoning
by managing any complications until it passes.
Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the
most common complication. Do not use medicines, including antibiotics and other
treatments, unless your doctor recommends them.
prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink
for each large, loose stool you have. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the
electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they
should not be used to rehydrate.
Try to stay with your usual diet
as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough
nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel
better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also
avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have
following steps can help prevent staph food poisoning (adapted from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
It is important to pay particular attention to food
preparation and storage during warm months when food is often served outside.
Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and
possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the
temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.
October 18, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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