Foodborne disease (cont.)
Food toxins -- Some foodborne diseases are caused by a toxin in the food that was produced by a microbe in the food. For example, staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) can grow in food and produce a toxin that causes intense vomiting. The rare but deadly disease botulism occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum grows and produces a powerful paralytic toxin in foods. These toxins can produce illness even if the microbes that produced them are no longer there.
Other foodborne diseases -- Among the many other foodborne diseases are the following: amebiasis (Entamoeba histolytica infection), Blastocystis hominis infection, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), cholera, cryptosporidiosis (crypto), cyclospora cayetanensis, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (E. coli), viral gastroenteritis, giardiasis, listeriosis, marine toxins shigellosis, travelers' diarrhea, trichinosis (trichinellosis), typhoid, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus infection.
Magnitude of the problem -- An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne disease occur each year in the US alone. The great majority of these cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Some cases are more serious, and CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year in the US. The most severe cases tend to occur in the very old, the very young, those who have an illness already that reduces their immune system function, and in healthy people exposed to a very high dose of an organism.
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012
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