Common Bacteria and Organisms Cause Food Poisoning

Contaminated food can make anyone seriously ill. In fact, 76 million cases of food poisoning occur in the United States every year. Generally, the symptoms of food poisoning, which include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration, disappear on their own within a day or two. Occasionally however, contamination is so severe that the affected individual suffers from personal injury, requiring medical treatment and hospitalization. In rare instances, death can even occur.

The four most common sources of food poisoning are bacteria and viruses, parasites, mold, toxin and similar contaminants and allergens

Food poisoning can affect one individual or a group of people who eat the same foods. It commonly occurs at large gatherings such as picnics, school cafeterias, banquets and restaurants.

As the most common cause of food poisoning, many different bacteria and viruses can be culprits in causing food-related sickness. Types include salmonella, Norovirus, also called Norwalk Virus, Campylobacter, E coli, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.

Organisms that take nourishment and protection from other living organisms can also transmit food-borne illnesses. These organisms, known as parasites, range in size from microscopic, single-celled organisms, to worms visible to the naked eye. These organisms may be transmitted by soil, water or personal contact. Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, is the most common form of food poisoning the in the United States caused by parasites. Other common foodborne parasites are protozoa, roundworms and tapeworms.

Natural or chemical toxins can sometimes cause food poisoning. Some natural molds in foods, such as those found in bleu cheese, are desirable. However others, including toxins in certain varieties of mushrooms and in pufferfish, known as tetrodoxins, and shellfish toxins, can cause illness. Molds often form on older foods, even those stored in a refrigerator. Before an infestation is visible however, spores may be present on food that are invisible to the naked eye. Any food with mold should be discarded immediately, followed by a thorough cleaning of the area where it was located.

Allergens make up the fourth common source of food poisoning. While most people remain unaffected, food allergies trigger an abnormal immune response in some individuals. Foods most commonly associated with allergies are fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster and crab, peanuts, which are technically legumes, tree nuts such as walnuts, and eggs.

Food poisoning can have a long-term effect on the body, resulting in adverse effects to health and quality of life. If negligence was involved in the preparation of the foods consumed, affected individuals may be able to press a food poisoning claim in court against the individuals or businesses responsible. Medical conditions that can be caused or aggravated by food poisoning include hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, chronic arthritis and brain and nerve damage. Guillain-Barré syndrome, a type of nerve disorder that can result in temporary paralysis, is sometimes triggered by an infection with Campylobacter bacteria.

Individuals who experience greater risk from long-term effects of food poisoning include pregnant women, older adults and those with chronic illnesses. Contamination not only occurs through food preparation, but also during production, processing and distribution. Individuals who believe they may have a food poisoning claim should contact a knowledgeable food poisoning attorney who will review facts in the case to determine whether compensation for personal injury is justified.

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Meet Colorado Workers' Compensation, Personal Injury and Insurance Dispute Attorney R. Mack Babcock

Prior to founding The Babcock Law Firm, LLC, R. Mack Babcock spent many years on the other side of workers' compensation , personal injury and insurance disputes representing some of the largest insurance companies and corporations in Colorado as an attorney at a midsize insurance defense firm.

Babcock is a member of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and the Workers' Compensation Educational Association.  In early 2008, he was elected as the Colorado House District 43 Committee Chairperson for the Douglas County Colorado Democratic Party. In connection with this position, he is responsible for finding a candidate(s) to run for House District 43, overseeing the campaign(s), organizing volunteers, and also sits on the executive committee for the Douglas County Democratic Party.