Staphylococcal Food Poisoning

Posted on January 17, 2012  Comments (1)

I pretty much don’t get sick, which is great. Twice in the last month I got something like food poisoning (which is more sickness than I get most years). So I looked online for some information on what might cause my symptoms and how fast it is possible for the onset of symptoms.

Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness. It is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus. It seems like a possible culprit. My guess is the onset for me has been within 2 hours (or it was a coincidence. That fast of an onset seems rare (based on my limited research).

The United States Center for Disease Control says symptoms can last 24-48 hours. For me symptoms came and went within 15 minutes. Rapid fever and “heat” feeling everywhere, diarea, gone. No more than 15 minutes from start to finish. I really find it very odd how I can feel so weird quickly and then just as quickly it is all gone.

The bacterium can also be found in unpasteurinzed milk and cheese products. Staphylococcus is salt tolerant and can grow in salty foods like ham. As the bacterium multiplies in food, it produces toxins that can cause food poisoning. Staphylococcal toxins are resistant to heat and cannot be destroyed by cooking. Foods at highest risk of producing toxins from Staphylococcus aureus are those that are made by hand and require no cooking. Some examples of foods that have caused staphylococcal food poisoning are sliced meat, puddings, pastries and sandwiches. The foods may not smell bad or look spoiled in order to produce the toxins.

Unrefrigerated or improperly refrigerated meats, potato and egg salads, cream pastries are possible paths to the food poisoning. I suspect ghee, in my case.

The CDC says that staphylococcal toxins are fast acting, sometimes causing illness in as little as 30 minutes after eating.contaminated foods, but symptoms usually develop within one to six hours. Patients typically experience several of the following: nausea, retching, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The illness cannot be passed to other people and it typically lasts for one day, but sometimes it can last up to three days. In a small minority of patients the illness may be more severe. They don’t seem to agree it can disappear in 15 minutes, otherwise it seems a possible cause.

Of course being essentially total ignorant about this stuff I could also be completely off base. I find this interesting though so I am doing some more reading.

I think it would be nice if the CDC would put links on pages to other causes with similar symptoms. Wouldn’t that be a good usability feature?

Related: What You Need to Know About Foodborne Illness-Causing OrganismsTracking the Ecosystem Within UsHealthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy WeightThe Man Who Unboiled an Egg

One Response to “Staphylococcal Food Poisoning”

  1. Great Webcast Explaining the Digestive Systems » Curious Cat Science Blog
    August 11th, 2012 @ 12:55 am

    Our bodies also have adapted to provide a huge surface area for the digestive system to work; the small intestine alone has a surface area of 250 square meters (larger than the size of most apartments)…

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