Understanding Food Borne Disease and Sepsis

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    Food Borne Disease and Sepsis:

    When bacteria poison the body’s bloodstream, the condition is known as septicemia or sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency, for depending on the bacteria involved, death rates are reported to be as high as 50 percent, according to John Hopkins Medicine. [1]

    The most common three bacteria attributing to cases of sepsis are Staphylococcus aureus (staph), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and specific strains of Streptococcus (primarily Streptococcus pyogenes).

    When there is an overgrowth of food borne pathogens in your body from contaminated foods, the most common response is diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Nausea, vomiting, and dehydration are additional symptoms associated with a bad bout of food poisoning.

    Other than severe dehydration from continuous loss of fluids through diarrhea and vomiting, the first major red flag to watch for with food poisoning is blood in your stools. If you see blood in your stools, contact your doctor immediately, for bloody stools indicate the bacterial food borne infection is no longer contained in the gastrointestinal tract and is beginning to spread throughout the rest of your body via the bloodstream.

    If bacteria have entered into the bloodstream from a gastrointestinal infection from contaminated food, watch for signs of sepsis. Although sepsis from food poisoning is rare, Staphylococcus aureus (staph), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and specific strains of Streptococcus (primarily Streptococcus pyogenes) are still attributed to both food borne infections and sepsis.

    According to the CDC, those at the most risk for sepsis include:

    • Adults over the age of 64 and children under 1
    • People with chronic medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, lung diseases, cancer)
    • People with weakened immune systems[2]

    According to the Sepsis Alliance, the long-term effects of sepsis include post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction, and the need for amputation. [3]

    To help prevent food borne illnesses and sepsis, follow safe food handling practices. Ensure your food is thoroughly cooked, properly washed, stored correctly, and handed in a sanitary manner.

    For more information about sepsis, visit the National Institute of Health’s page here: https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/Documents/Sepsis.pdf

    [1] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/septicemia

    [2] https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/what-is-sepsis.html

    [3] https://www.sepsis.org/sepsis-and/sepsis-and-food-poisoning/


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