Bacteria that Cause Foodborne Illness

FSIS

Here is a common list of bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

 

Bacteria Type:
Campylobacter jejuni

Found in:
Intestinal tracts of animals and birds, raw milk, untreated water, and sewage sludge.

Transmission:
Contaminated water, raw milk, and raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or shellfish.

Symptoms:
Fever, headache and muscle pain followed by diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, and nausea that appear 2 to 5 days after eating; may last 7 to 10 days.

Bacteria Type:
Clostridium Botulinum

Found in:
Widely distributed in nature; soil, water, on plants, and intestinal tracts of animals and fish. Grows only in little or no oxygen. Bacteria produce a toxin that causes illness.

Transmission:
Improperly canned foods, garlic in oil, vacuum-packed and tightly wrapped food.

Symptoms:
Toxin affects the nervous system. Symptoms usually appear 18 to 36 hours, but can sometimes appear as few as 4 hours or as many as 8 days after eating; double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking and swallowing, and difficulty breathing. Fatal in 3 to 10 days if not treated.

Bacteria Type:
Clostridium perfringens

Found in:
Soil, dust, sewage, and intestinal tracts of animals and humans. Grows only in little or no oxygen.

Transmission:
Called "the cafeteria germ" because many outbreaks result from food left for long periods in steam tables or at room temperature. Bacteria destroyed by cooking, but some toxin-producing spores may survive.

Symptoms:
Diarrhea and gas pains may appear 8 to 24 hours after eating; usually last about 1 day, but less severe symptoms may persist for 1 to 2 weeks.

Bacteria Type:
Escherichia coli O157:H7

Found in:
Intestinal tracts of some mammals, raw milk, unchlorinated water; one of several strains of E. coli that can cause human illness.

Transmission:
Contaminated water, raw milk, raw or rare ground beef, unpasteurized apple juice or cider, uncooked fruits and vegetables; person-to-person.

Symptoms:
Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and malaise; can begin 2 to 5 days after food is eaten, lasting about 8 days. Some, especially the very young, have developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) that causes acute kidney failure.

Bacteria Type:
Listeria monocytogenes

Found in:
Intestinal tracts of humans and animals, milk, soil, leaf vegetables; can grow slowly at refrigerator temperatures.

Transmission:
Ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry, soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk.

Symptoms:
Fever, chills, headache, backache, sometimes upset stomach, abdominal pain and diarrhea; may take up to 3 weeks to become ill; may later develop more serious illness in at-risk patients (pregnant women and newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems).

Bacteria Type:
Salmonella (over 2300 types)

Found in:
Intestinal tracts and feces of animals; Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs.

Transmission:
Raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, and meat; raw milk and dairy products; seafood, and food handlers.

Symptoms:
Stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, chills, fever, and headache usually appear 8 to 72 hours after eating; may last 1 to 2 days.

Bacteria Type:
Shigella (over 30 types)

Found in:
Human intestinal tract; rarely found in other animals.

Transmission:
Person-to-person by fecal-oral route; fecal contamination of food and water. Most outbreaks result from food, especially salads, prepared and handled by workers using poor personal hygiene.
Disease referred to as "shigellosis" or bacillary dysentery.

Symptoms:
Diarrhea containing blood and mucus, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, and vomiting; 12 to 50 hours from ingestion of bacteria; can last a few days to 2 weeks.

Bacteria Type:
Staphylococcus aureus

Found in:
Humans (skin, infected cuts, pimples, noses, and throats).

Transmission:
Person-to-person through food from improper food handling. Multiply rapidly at room temperature to produce a toxin that causes illness.

Symptoms:
Severe nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea occur 1 to 6 hours after eating; recovery within 2 to 3 days - longer if severe dehydration occurs.

 

Bacteria that Cause Foodborne Illness:  Created on November 7th, 2007.  Last Modified on November 7th, 2007

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About FSIS

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.

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