Microbial poisoning and its types

There are three basic types of food poisoning, namely chemical poisoning, physical contamination and microbial poisoning.

Microbial poisoning: infections vs intoxications

The illness that is caused by any kind of micro-organism is known as microbial food poisoning. They either cause intoxications or infections to one’s body. Micro-organisms can be found all around us, their size ranges from the smallest viruses to the large, complex multi-cellular organisms. The common characteristic in all of them is that, in spite of their size variation, none of these micro-organisms can be seen by the naked eye.

Food-borne infection is caused when invading organisms grow in the host body and cause symptoms of the disease. Salmonella dysentery, tapeworms and hepatitis are some of the examples of such infections and the diseases caused by them.

Food-borne intoxications are the result of consuming poisonous material. If the poisonous material is caused by a microorganism then it is called microbial intoxication. Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus aureus are dangerous toxin-producing bacteria. Common types of bacterial poisoning

• Botulism – It is caused by the bacteria named Clostridium botulinum that produces the toxin Botulin. It gets destroyed in high temperatures. Therefore, it can be avoided by heating the food well. A lot of Botulism cases have been witnessed which had been caused by canned foods. A damaged can or the can bulging due to air can be a sign of this kind of bacteria. This food should immediately be discarded.

• E- Coli- It is the common term used for Escherichia coli and is found in the lower intestines. Food affected by this bacterium when consumed can result in food poisoning. It can be destroyed by carefully washing and cooking the food. Washing hands after handling food chemicals can also hinder the transfer of this bacterium.

• Salmonella – It is usually found in poultry and poultry products. Salmonella also has other sources like meat, unpasteurized milk, mayonnaise sauce, sea food and untreated water. To kill this bacterium you need to wash your hands thoroughly after handling infected food. Cooking at high temperatures can prove to be helpful in destroying this microbe. Salmonella has long-term and serious health impacts. It is difficult to get rid of this bacterium once you get infected. So it is better to take necessary action to maintain good food standards and prevent salmonella infection.

• Campylobacter – Campylobacter is generally found in undercooked food, poultry, raw meat, untreated water and unpasteurized milk. It causes food poisoning and is easily transferred to other food sources too. So it is advisable to keep a check on the basic hygiene as well as your diet.

It is better to prevent microbial food poisoning than to look for its treatment afterwards. You do not have to do much; just by taking simple food preservation and handling steps, you will be able to protect yourself from poisonous microbes that cause food poisoning.

Causes for Microbial Poisoning

Microbial food-borne illness commonly takes place throughout the world. Fortunately, a majority of the individuals recover from the episode of food borne illness without of any sort of lasting complications. Handy treatments are accessible for microbial poisoning to ensure that the illnesses don’t get worse.

There are numerous ways of food-borne infection being caused. Chemical or microbial infection, food allergy and the infections related with over-eating are some of the types. Eating food which is contaminated through micro-organisms, like parasites, bacteria or virus, can cause microbial poisoning.

Micro-organisms which cause microbial poisoning

Few of the highly common micro-organisms which cause food poisoning include:


It is one of the prime causes for food-borne infection. There are various kinds of Salmonella such as those which cause gastroenteritis and typhoid fever. Many people are infected by Salmonella after eating undercooked food or due to cross contamination of poultry products or raw meat, or also because of the contamination of the fresh product. A lot of cases of Salmonella microbial food poisoning are reported due to consuming food which has been contaminated by animal feces.

Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli or E. coli is a usual cause of microbial food poisoning as well as traveler’s diarrhea. E. coli infection can take place when the water or food gets contaminates by bacteria from the infected feces.

Hepatitis A virus

The Hepatitis A virus is transmitted in the foods through contamination due to an unhygienic food handler and also from the raw shellfish. The symptoms usually do not appear until 15-50 days after the infection has set in which makes it a bit difficult to discern the infection’s source.


This infection is one of the prime and common causes of food-borne illnesses and is normally acquired when the food being prepared by contaminated food handler gets infected through them (for instance, in restaurants). The Norovirus is extremely infectious and get simply passed on from individual to individual. The symptoms of this micro-organism usually begin 24-48 hours of exposure with feelings of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Many of the cases, however, get resolved without any medicinal treatment.

Listeria Monocytogenes

It is a bacteria type which is generally found in contaminated or unpasteurized milk and dairy products likesoft cheese, and also in contaminated processed meat, smoked seafood and hot dogs. The gastrointestinal symptoms generally develop in about 24 hours and involve fever, nausea, fever, watery diarrhea, joint and muscle pain and headaches. A more severe infection known as Listeriosis might take place in about 1-3 weeks after the Listeria Monocytogenes bacteria attacks the bloodstream.

Other microorganisms

There are as many as 200 more microbes that cause microbial poisoning. It is essential to wash and treat the food adequately before consumption in order to reduce the probabilities of getting infected.

Bacillus Cereus and two types of microbial poisoning

Bacillus Cereus are micro-organisms found in a variety of food items. They occur naturally and are a cause of food poisoning. The two major types of food poisoning that are caused by these bacteria are diarrheal and emetic. Toxins produced by these bacteria cause food poisoning. Of thousands of cases of microbial poisoning reported each year, this bacterium accounts for only 5% of the total number. Generally, the disease does not last for long and the patient recovers in a day or two. The food items which cause this type of Food poisoning caused due to Bacillus Cereus generally stems from food items like cooked rice or food that is stored at lower or higher temperatures after cooking.

More about bacteria

To know more about this disease, you should have a proper knowledge about the bacteria that causes it and its nature. Bacillus Cereus is a type of bacteria that is known for producing toxins and spores, both of which are harmful for the human body. The growth of the bacterium is the best when the temperature is between 30-37 degrees. Some forms may even grow at 55 degrees and some at as low as 4 degrees. There is a particular ph-range for the growth of all micro-organisms and for Bacillus Cereus it is 4.3 to 9.3.

These bacteria show good growth in the presence of oxygen, although they can also grow without oxygen. The bacteria get killed but the spores can sometimes resist heat. If the bacteria are present in high fat or oily food, the heat resistance is increased. Also, when the foods have low water activity the resistance is increased. The food poisoning by this microbe is of two types. The diarrheal illness is caused in the presence of unstable acid entero toxin. The emetic illness is however caused by another type of toxin that can easily be alive even in the high temperatures and also with extreme ph levels.

Diarrheal poisoning

It is important to know the symptoms of the disease as you must take actions accordingly. When the person has diarrheal poisoning, the body will undergo some changes. Cramps, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea are some of the most common symptoms of this type of food poisoning. The bacteria multiply at a fast rate causing problems to the person who has consumed the food product. They emit toxins as they multiply in the intestine.

Emetic poisoning

Symptoms of emetic poisoning are nausea and vomiting. Some people may also witness diarrhea after these two initial symptoms. In case of this food poisoning the symptoms start occurring one to six hours after the consumption of the food item. If you or anyone in your family has these symptoms, make sure you visit the doctor or a lab and give a fecal specimen to confirm food poisoning of this type.

Microbial food poisoning symptoms and prevention

A rising number of incidents of microbial food poisoning are being witnessed around the world. There is a wide range of bacteria that have the capabilities of causing food poisoning. Staphylococcus is a type of bacteria that has the capability of affecting people. They infect the food at the time of cooking. The bacteria E. coli cause diarrhea in people through consumption of infected food or water. These bacteria salmonella affect chicken, eggs and meat causing salmonellosis.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Since there are varied forms of food poisoning to which each person’s body reacts differently, it becomes difficult for the person to determine the food items because of which the infection has been caused. Some of the people might develop various symptoms of microbial food poisoning within half an hour of food consumption while there are others who do not develop any symptoms until a week. The symptoms largely depend upon the bacteria that is causing the infection and also on the person’s body chemistry.

The symptoms of microbial food poisoning also depend upon the time duration for which the person is feeling ill because of the differences among the various types that affects people and also on the fitness and health of the person.

Though there are distinct symptoms of microbial food poisoning, some of the most common symptoms that are seen amongst the affected people vary from nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach pain, dehydration and exhaustion.

These are some of the most common symptoms of microbial food poisoning; however, there are some severe symptoms that can result in paralysis, damage of the nervous system and even deaths if proper diagnosis is not done.


Some essential steps are to be taken for preventing microbial food poisoning. It is to be kept in mind that food-borne sicknesses can be caused by all food products. It is essential to wash hands thoroughly as well as clean the utensils and surfaces of food preparation very well before, at the time of and after handling raw foods in order to ensure that recontamination of the cooked food and microbial food poisoning is avoided.

Serving hot food immediately after it is cooked is also one of the ways that can be used for avoiding contamination of food. The temperature of the refrigerator must be kept below 40 degrees so that the growth of bacteria and microbes is avoided; thus lowering the risk of microbial food poisoning.

Infants, pregnant women and aged people or any other person having a weak immunity system are more prone to the food borne sicknesses caused by microbial infection. Food products such as meat, fishes and other seafood in its raw form should be avoided at all costs by these people. Proper preventory measures can ensure the timely prevention of food poisoning due to microbial infection.

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Salmonella Food Poisoning

Microbes and food poisoning are interrelated and thousands of cases of food poisoning due to microbes are reported every year in every country. One of the chief types of bacteria that cause food poisoning is Salmonella. The sources of this type of bacteria are food chemicals and poultry items, meat, unprocessed milk and also contaminated water. Sometimes, your pets like birds and even turtles can become the carriers of this type of bacteria. This bacteria cause infection that leads to food poisoning-related diseases.

This type of bacteria attacks directly the intestines and stomach. Some of the cases also see the bacteria entering the lymph tracts. The work of these tracts is to carry protein and water to the blood. They are also carriers of blood which means that this kind of infection can lead to some serious problems for the patient. These bacteria can attack anyone regardless of their age and sex. People who have a weak immune system or are already ill are at a higher risk of getting this infection.

The chief symptoms of this infection are headaches, stomach cramps, fever, blood in feces, nausea with vomiting and diarrhea or constipation. The cases in which the infection is less, the symptoms will also be milder and the patient will be cured of them in four to seven days. Some of the infections do not even require treatments and are cured with the help of consumption of liquids. In the milder cases, the main symptom is only diarrhea.

The more serious cases of salmonella poisoning may lead to excessive diarrhea, other health problems and even stomach cramps. It is seen that in some cases that diarrhea continues for long and is frequent. This leads to loss of essential fluids from the body and the body suffers. When the stomach cramps become intolerable and the patient has fever of 38 degrees or higher, one should not make any delays in calling the doctor and telling him about the situation. It is advised that one should take proper medication only after consulting the doctor.

Signs of jaundice may also appear. The eyes will turn yellow and the body too will appear slightly yellowish. If something like this happens, you should know that there is some problem with the liver or the bile ducts whose work is to carry the bile from the liver to the stomach. You should take immediate curative measures and prepare the food that you eat hygienically while keeping all food standards in mind. Make a point to wash your hands before you consume anything. Make sure that the utensils kept in your kitchen are clean. The more knowledge that you gain about the disease the more it will be helpful to know the steps to take to prevent yourself and your family.

E. coli enteritis - microbial food poisoning

Bacteria are the causes of microbial diseases. Microbes are tiny mico-organisms, invisible to the naked eye, that cause serious illnesses. Microbes like escherichia coli or E. coli are one of the chief causes of millions of people suffering from microbial food poisoning. The disease caused by this particular type of bacteria is named as E. coli enteritis. This disease causes the small intestine to get inflammated. Here is some information about the disease and how it can be prevented and treated.

E. coli enteritis is a type of bacterial gastroenteritis. One can get this disease by drinking contaminated water or eating food that has not been kept covered or has been cooked in unhygienic conditions. If anyone in your family has already been infected by this particular type of food bacteria, you need to take all the precautions to ensure that no other family member gets the disease. Also, if anyone in the family has had severe diarrhea or vomiting, there are chances of some other person contracting the disease. If you travel a lot, make sure that you do not drink untreated water. It is always advisable to drink only bottled mineral water.

It is important for everyone to know the symptoms of the disease. Intestines are the organs affected by this type of bacteria. When the bacteria enter the intestine through food additives, the symptoms will start showing. Bacteria will take almost one to two days to enter the intestine and start showing the symptoms of the disease. Some common symptoms that you will notice are abdominal pain, gas, fever, stomach cramps and loss of appetite. Severe diarrhea may occur and there may be secretion of blood through feces. If the complications increase, consult your doctor.

You should contact the physician to get it treated and undergo the tests that he refers. Your stool will have to be tested so that the disease and the microbe infection can be detected. Most of the cases do not turn complex and it takes one to three days to get cured. Sometimes, no treatment may be required. Sometimes, having electrolyte solutions can help in getting rid of the bacteria, particularly for the cases when the patient feels dehydrated. Some young children are unable to consume fluids; they may need immediate medical attention and the injection of some intravenous fluids to be cured.

Your doctors will advise you on the medicines you are supposed to take. Do not start taking or discontinue the use of any medicines on your own without consulting the physician. Dairy products may increase the infection or stop the bacteria from being killed so avoid consuming them. The diarrhea may get worse if temporary lactose intolerance occurs. Make sure you follow all the precautions to prevent the disease from affecting you and your family by avoiding E. coli infection.

Shigella bacterial food poisoning

Bacterial food poisoning is very common all around the world and millions regularly suffer from it. One of the bacteria that cause food poisoning is Shigella. You must have heard the term “traveler’s diarrhea”. This is a problem results from improper eating while traveling in some other country or state. Contamination of food is one of the major reasons behind this problem. Thousands of cases of people suffering from shigellosis are reported in the United States every year.

Many types of bacteria have become immune to the therapies and courses that the people do to stay away from infections. The anti-biotic therapies have stopped working on some types of bacteria and this leads to more cases of infections. This is due to the fact that some anti-biotic medicines that are used for bacterial purposes were being used for other purposes as well. One should have appropriate information about shigellosis in order to prevent them from this serious disease.

You need to know that shigella can enter your body through food like tuna, potato, macaroni, shrimps and even chicken. Raw vegetables, meat and dairy products can also have the bacteria. The symptoms of shigellosis are abdominal discomfort, cramps, vomiting, blood in stool and diarrhea. Some of the cases that are less severe will last up to 4-8 days when you don’t use antibiotics. The infections that are severe in nature may even last up to 3-6 weeks.

Diarrhea makes you lose essential salts in the body so you need to replenish them. You should, however, not use anti-diarrheal drugs as they will slow down the process of destruction of shigella from a person’s body. The shigella is generally present in the gastrointestinal tract and it causes the illness to stretch up to many more days. The infection can be treated with the help of some home remedies or taking antibiotics. However, it is always better to consult a doctor when you see the symptoms. You should have proper knowledge about the symptoms so that when they occur, you can contact the physician and get proper medical attention. When you take anti-biotics, shigella will get reduced in quantity.

In order to stay away from all types of infections, you will have to make sure that you take all the precautions. Make it a point to wash hands before you have your food and cook the food properly so that all the bacteria that may be present in the raw food get killed. Sanitation and hygiene thus plays an important role in preventing the diseases caused from this microbial poisoning. It is also important to have proper information about the diseases that can potentially cause harm to you. Vaccines can also be taken to prevent their infection in certain stages of development. Vaccines prove to be a good enough remedy against bacteria that do not show any resistance against antibiotics.

Microbial poisoning: Food Spoilage

A highly overlooked fact is that all food items that we eat are of biological origin. Therefore, the basic knowledge of biology is important for the food production, distribution and preparation. In short, we should have the proper knowledge to ensure that our food does not contain any kinds of impurities.

Food spoilage and deterioration

Food gets deteriorated because of the following reasons:

• Growth of the micro-organisms being caused due to surface contamination, especially in the processed diet.

• Action of the enzymes is responsible for food spoilage too. One should make a note of the fact that many fruits and vegetables contain enzymes which get transported into our systems when such fruits are bought and eaten raw. The meat of animals also undergoes slow chemical changes subsequent to slaughter posing enzyme threats.

Food spoilage and deterioration are caused through food poisoning and decay due to different bacteria. As the bacteria grow, enzymes are released in liquid surroundings and they spoil the products in the external digestive system. This is the basic reason for food spoilage and is responsible for lowering the nutritional value. Moulds and bacteria secrete waste products that act as food chemical and poisons, causing definite ill effects.

Growth of fungi and bacteria

One should notice that fungi and bacteria have a great role in recycling the biological waste products of nature and bacteria and other viruses are also responsible for infectious diseases in animals, plants and human beings.

Conditions that encourage growth of these micro-organisms are:

• Suitable temperature

• Organic food (carbohydrates, fats and proteins)

• Air

• Moisture

• Suitable pH levels

Food preservation techniques

Temperature treatments

With every 10°C hike in the temperature, activity of enzymes and micro-organisms is doubled from the range of 0°-60°C. Above this temperature, heat destroys the enzymes and their living cells. The changes are slowed down with decreasing temperatures. In the refrigerator, food decays slowly and can be preserved for a longer period. But this does not kill the bacteria; instead it makes them less active.

Moisture removal

Food is usually preserved by simply drying it in the sun. Water can be added while eating so that it gets rehydrated and if taken dry, the digestive juices of our body moisten it. Sugary and salted foods can also be preserved with the help of similar techniques so that water of the food does not become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Removal of the air

Vacuum packing of certain foods is used for avoiding the breeding of bacteria causing food poisoning. Some of these foods are cheese and bacon.

Alteration of the pH

Pickling and making use of vinegars can lower the pH level ensuring that the enzymes do not exist in the food.

By making use of different food preservation techniques as stated above, you can avoid food spoilage due to microbes.

Symptoms, causes and home remedies for microbial poisoning

Microbial food poisoning can be caused if one eats food that contains toxins or other harmful food chemicals. Two of the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning are E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Food poisoning can take place due to improper handling. The degree of contamination will vary from person to person and depending on the contamination. There are a lot of food products that can cause microbial poisoning when consumed. Some of those products are red meat, poultry, uncooked or semi-cooked vegetables and unpasteurized milk. Contaminated water can also be one of the reasons for this type of poisoning.

Some symptoms of microbial poisoning

Symptoms of microbial food poisoning generally develop depending on the severity of the poisoning. Sometimes the symptoms are so mild that they are hardly noticeable, while at other times they are much more severe. Some microbes react within one hour and some may cause symptoms to show after 24-48 hours. Vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and pains are some of the symptoms that one would see. If the poisoning is very serious chills and fever can also occur.

Causes of microbial poisoning

Some of the common causes for food poisoning are fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites. Bacteria can multiply easily and this is the reason why they are one of the major causes of such poisoning. Make sure you clean your kitchen regularly to avoid dirt and bacteria from persisting in the vessels. Also, while cooking handle raw food with care and cook it to the maximum temperature to kill the bacteria present in it. If you eat canned food, heat it well before consuming it. This is because food preservation in cans may give rise to bacteria. The harmful effects of bacteria can be stopped by preventing their growth or destroying them.

Home remedies for microbial poisoning

Here are some home remedies for killing the bacteria and preventing their outbreak.

• When you suffer from food additives poisoning avoid eating anything, especially sugary fluids.

• Eating bread is a good option as it absorbs the poison and gives relief.

• To get rid of the symptoms, you can have one-fourth cup of charcoal powder with a glass of water. Continue this till the time you get rid of the symptoms.

• Garlic is very useful in detoxifying the intestine and destroying the bacteria. Having garlic can be a useful method of dealing with food poisoning.

• Rubbing a mixture of garlic oil and soya oil on your stomach will also provide relief.

• As a general rule, you can have a cup of ginger tea after the meals as it is good for digestion and acts against nausea and heartburn.

• If you are allergic to any products, do not consume them as this can cause further damage. These tips will benefit you and you will be able to get relief from food poisoning. If the problem persists, consult your doctor and get proper medication.

Bacteria causing food poisoning

Almost all of the cases of microbial food poisoning are a result of food or water contamination caused by viruses, bacteria and in a few cases by protozoa parasites. Unhealthy conditions can let the bacteria multiply and, if consumed by a person, they can result in microbial food poisoning.

There are some cases of microbial food poisoning in which the infection is not caused by the bacteria or microbes but the toxins released by them in the food that is being consumed.

The problems can be caused by the infectious bacteria which get ingested into the system of an individual. These bacteria can then escalate the problem by getting multiplied in the digestive tract of the human beings. On the other hand, the microbial food poisoning can also be caused due to the toxins that are produced by the bacteria even before the consumption of food.

Most of the food poisoning caused by the microbes generally result in diarrhoea that may be accompanied by vomiting with pain in abdomen. The symptoms that are visible, the speed at which the infection develops and the duration of the illness, all depend largely on the cause and type of the microbial food poisoning.

Main types of bacteria causing microbial poisoning

Staphylococci bacteria

Staphylococci are a type of bacteria that causes many sorts of microbial food poisoning. There are a variety of foods such as eggs, chicken and meat of various sorts that have higher risks of being infected with the staphylococci bacteria. Sandwiches prepared quite some time ago may also carry the risk of this bacteria infection. The Staphylococci bacteria is one of the types that produce toxins which enter the system of the person along with the contaminated food. The symptoms are usually shown within four to five hours after the consumption of food.

Escherichia Coli bacteria

There are certain types of Escherichia Coli bacteria that can contaminate and infect water and meat by the production of toxins. Some types of E. Coli cause severe illness to the infected person due to the dangerous toxin produced by this bacterium. These bacteria can harm the blood cells as well and in some cases they may also lead to kidney damage.

Salmonella bacteria

Most cases of microbial food poisoning take place because of these bacteria. The infection from these generally takes place after the consumption of turkey, chicken or egg that has been previously infected with the Salmonella bacteria. Some of the most common symptoms that are caused by this type of bacteria include vomiting, diarrhea accompanied by blood with feces and mild fever in some of the cases.

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