The most common recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the bacteria. A pathogen is any microorganism that is infectious and causes disease. There are bad bacteria, such as the 12 Most Unwanted Bacteria, that causes foodborne illnesses. They include: Campylobacter, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium periringens, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Typhimurium, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, , Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio vulnificus, and Yersinisa enterrocolitica. The following three are the chief causes foodborne illnesses, Camplyobacteria, Salmonella and E.Coli 0157:H7. (FDA(Food),2001)
The Campylobacter organism is a group of spiral - shaped bacteria that can cause disease in humans and animals. It causes fever diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Out of all the diarrhea illness is has been identified as the most common. The intestines of healthy birds and most raw poultry meat are the host for these bacteria. The bacterium is fragile. It cannot tolerate drying and can be killed by oxygen. It grows only if there is less than the atmospheric amount of oxygen present. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria present on raw meat. Eating chicken not fully cooked or juices from raw chicken that has contaminated other food causes the most frequent source of infection. It can also come from raw milk and untreated water. The incubation period is generally 2 -- 5 days after ingestion and the illness lasts up to 7 -- 10 days.(Bellenir,1985) It is estimated that there are 2 - 4 million cases per year. (Josephson, 1998)
Some people who are infected with Campylobacter don’t have any symptoms at all. In persons with compromised immune system, Campylobacter can spread to the bloodstream and causes a serious life - threatening infection. It can be the cause of Guillain -- Barre syndrome. It is the most common cause of kidney failure in children. Campylobacteriosis occurs much more frequently in the summer months than in the winter. Although it doesn’t commonly cause death, it has been estimated that 500 persons with Campylobacter infections may die each year. (Mead, 1999)
In December of 2001, a total of 75 people had been diagnosis with Campylobacter jejuini infection through reports of health care providers reports cases with patients ranging from age 2 - 63. The symptoms included 93% had diarrhea, 92% had abdominal cramps, 76% had fever, 40% had nausea and 23% had grossly bloody diarrhea. No one needed hospitalization. 70 patients reported drinking unpasturized milk from a local dairy farm, 4 patients did not drink milk, but were mothers of ill children who did and 1 child did not drink milk or come into contact with the other patients.
The supplier of the milk was a Grade A dairy farm with 36 cows. The farm also had a retail store and gave tours to the public including childcare facilities. Tours may explain how that 1 child contracted the illness.
Unpasturized milk cannot be legally sold to consumers in Wisconsin. The diary instituted a cow - leasing program. Consumers paid an initial fee to lease part of the cow. Milk could be picked up or delivery was available. Milk from all the leased cows was stored in a bulk tank.
After the outbreak was linked to the dairy farm, investigators tested a sample of milk from the bulk container. The sample tested positive and matched the outbreak strain.
Because of the outbreak, the farm was ordered to ship all milk where it could be processed for pasteurization. Wisconsin state officials are also enforcing regulations that already exist, banning cow - leasing programs. (Harrington, 2002)
The Salmonella germ is a microscopic living creature that passes from the feces of people or animals, to other people or other animals. Salmonella has been known to cause illness for over 100 years. This bacterium is also widespread in the intestines of birds as well as reptiles and mammals. A variety of food, of animal origin can spread this to humans. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with these feces.
It causes the illness salmonellosis, which normally is accompanied by fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. It can also invade the bloodstream, causing life threatening infections in persons with poor underlying health or weakened immune systems. The incubation period is generally 12 to 72 hours, after eating contaminated food and lasts up to 4 to 7 days. Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of persons who are infected with Salmonella, will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat. (Mead, 1999)
In 1986, during an U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection of beef, chicken and pork, Salmonella was found in 37% of chicken, 12% of pork, and 5% of beef tested. Recent test shows comparable rates. Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be twenty or more times greater. Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter. (Moeller, 1996)
In October 1997, there was an outbreak of Salmonella Serotype Enteitids in D.C. Nearly 75 people affected attended 7 different events. The same commercial manufacturer in Gaithersburg, Maryland supplied the lasagna for a workshop dinner, nursing home luncheon and dinner for five private homes. Three patients needed to be hospitalized, none died.
The lasagna was implicated because it was the common link to each event. The District of Columbia Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control (DCBEDC) tested left over lasagna and discovered it was the source of SE phase type 8. The lasagna was made using fully cooked meat or spinach sauces, mixture of raw eggs, spices, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. All the lasagna made for the events were made with the same batch of egg - cheese mixture.
The investigation traced the eggs to the farm where they originated. Testing was done in 13 poultry houses and 5 positive samples of SE were found.
The finding of the outbreak led the DCBEDC recommending the manufacturer use pasteurized eggs in egg - containing food. The company voluntarily complied. (Reporter,2000)
E. coli 0157:H7
E. coli 0157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. The combination of letters and numbers in the name of the bacterium refers to the specific markers found on its surface and distinguishes it form other types of E. coli. E. coli 0157:H7 was first recognized as a cause of illness in 1982 during an outbreak of severe bloody diarrhea; the outbreak was traced to contaminated hamburgers. Since then, most infections have come from eating undercooked ground beef. (Bellenir, 1985)
Human illness is the result of consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with microscopic amounts of cow feces. Most illness has been associated with eating undercooked contaminated ground beef. Other known sources of infection are consumption of sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice, and swimming in or drinking sewage - contaminated water. Bacteria in diarrhea stools of infected persons can be passed from one person to another if hygiene or hand washing habits is inadequate. This is particularly likely among toddlers who are not toilet trained. Family members and playmates of these children are at high risk of becoming infected. Young children are at high risk of becoming infected. Young children typically shed the organism if their illness resolves. Older children rarely carry the organism without symptoms. Severe bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, without much fever are usually symptoms of this illness. The incubation period is generally 3 to 4 days after ingestion, but may occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days after ingestion, and can last up to 5 to 8 days. (CDC, 2002)
A complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) has occurred several weeks after first symptoms in 3% to 5% of cases, particularly children under 5 years of age and the elderly. The symptoms of this sever complication are temporary anemia, profuse bleeding and kidney failure. About one-third of persons with hemolytic uremic syndrome have abnormal kidney function many years later, and a few require long-term dialysis. Another 8% of persons with hemolytic uremic syndrome have other lifelong complications, such as high blood pressure, seizures, blindness, paralysis, and the effect is of having part of their bowel removed. (CDC, 2002)
Escherichia coli 0157:H7 is an emerging cause of food borne illness. An estimated 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths occur in the United States each year. (Mead, 1999)
Other toxins and poisonous chemicals can cause foodborne illness. If pesticides are inadvertently added to a food or in food is prepared with naturally poisonous substance, such as poisonous mushrooms people can also become ill. (CDC, 2002)
Escherichia coli 0157:H7 Outbreak
In January of 1993 there was a E.coli outbreak associated with Jack in the Box restaurants, located in Washington state. 350 people became ill and 3 children died. ( Moeller, 1996)
The source of the outbreak was a batch of contaminated hamburger meat that was purchased by a supplier.
Thoroughly cooking the hamburger would have killed the bacteria, but Jack in the Box used a cooking star that was deemed acceptable in most states. Unfortunately it was not sufficient to kill E.coli. Since this E.coli outbreak caused Jack in the Box chain has instituted a food safety program.
Although Jack in the Box sales dropped a great deal in 1993 and 1994 they have grown to a total of 1,800 stores. This is attributed to the company’s devotion to improve food safety and public awareness. (Howard, 2002)