This disorder can be caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
The toxins are found in contaminated foods.
Typical symptoms include severe nausea and vomiting starting about 30 minutes to 8 hours after the contaminated food is eaten.
The diagnosis usually is based on the person’s symptoms.
Treatment usually involves drinking plenty of fluids.
Careful food preparation is the best way to prevent food poisoning.
Food can become contaminated when people who have Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin do not wash their hands properly before touching food. If the food is then left at room temperature or is undercooked, the bacteria can multiply and produce toxins. Thus, staphylococcal food poisoning does not result from ingesting the bacteria but rather from ingesting the toxins in the food that were made by the bacteria. Typical contaminated foods include custard, cream-filled pastry, milk, processed meats, and fish.
Despite contamination, many foods have a normal taste and odor.
Staphylococcal food poisoning is not contagious. People have to ingest the toxins to become sick.
Staphylococcal food poisoning is a type of gastroenteritis Overview of Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small and large intestines. It is usually caused by infection with a microorganism but can also be caused by ingestion of chemical... read more (inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small and large intestines).
Staphylococci bacteria can also infect many parts of the body, particularly the skin (see Staphylococcus aureus Infections Staphylococcus aureus Infections Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure ) often cause skin infections... read more ).
Symptoms of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning
Symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning usually begin abruptly with severe nausea and vomiting starting about 30 minutes to 8 hours after the contaminated food is eaten.
Other symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and sometimes headache and fever. Severe fluid and electrolyte Overview of Electrolytes More than half of a person's body weight is water. Doctors think about water in the body as being restricted to various spaces, called fluid compartments. The three main compartments are Fluid... read more loss may cause weakness and very low blood pressure (shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition in which blood flow to the organs is low, decreasing delivery of oxygen and thus causing organ damage and sometimes death. Blood pressure is usually low... read more ).
Symptoms usually last for about a day, and recovery is usually complete.
Occasionally, staphylococcal food poisoning is fatal, especially in the very young, the very old, and people weakened by, for example, a long-term illness.
Diagnosis of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning
A doctor's evaluation
Sometimes laboratory tests of food
The symptoms are usually all a doctor needs to diagnose staphylococcal food poisoning.
A diagnosis of staphylococcal food poisoning may be suspected when other people who ate the same food are similarly affected and when the illness can be traced to a single source of contamination.
To confirm the diagnosis, a laboratory must identify staphylococci in the suspected food, but this testing is not usually done because the results do not change treatment.
Treatment of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning
Sometimes medications to control nausea and vomiting
Sometimes fluids by vein
Treatment of staphylococcal food poisoning usually consists of drinking an adequate amount of fluids.
A doctor may give adults an antinausea medication, either as an injection or as a suppository, to help control severe nausea and vomiting.
Sometimes so much fluid is lost that fluids have to be given by vein (intravenously).
Antibiotics are not given.
Prevention of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning
Proper food preparation and handling
Careful food preparation can prevent staphylococcal food poisoning.
Anyone who has a skin infection should not prepare food for others until the infection heals.
Food should be consumed immediately or refrigerated and not kept at room temperature.