• What is the infectious agent (pathogen) that causes this infectious disease? Staphylococcus is an unmodifiable bacterium that causes Botulism. Which mean that individuals have no control over catching or not catching this disease. Since botulism is such strong and dangerous bacteria, that ingesting the smallest amount can make individuals sick. More important is other living forms or life like bacteria’s are changing, and becoming resistant to the body’s defenses and medical treatment that causes infections.
There are multi-drug strains of Staphylococcus are emerging in various parts of the world all of the time. Staphylococci are usually present on the skin or in the nostrils of 20 to 30 percent of individuals any time. Usually it causes no problem for otherwise healthy individuals. Although individuals cannot do anything about catching the infection, fortunately there are things individuals can do to reduce or build their immune systems. • How is this infectious agent transmitted through food or water? This infection can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact and in food.
If transmitted through contact, individuals that had a staph infection, probably had acne, boils, and styes on their eyelids, or infected wounds. Staphylococcus aureus is also transmitted through convenience food which offers an appropriate growth environment for toxin-producing bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus is able to grow in a wide variety of foods such as milk products, mixed foods, meat and meat products, egg and egg products, cakes and ice-cream. The fight against foodborne diseases are facing new challenges because of fast changing patterns of individual consumption, the globalization of the food market and climate change.
This infection can be defeated by ones immune system, however resistant forms of the staph bacteria is on the rise. • What is an example of a real life outbreak of this foodborne illness in the United States? Some outbreaks are salmonella in chicken, peanut butter, and vegetables or Escherichia coli (a deadly and dangerous bacterial pathogen) in spinach or beef. Studies conducted in the past decade estimated that foodborne bacteria has sickened over 76 million people and caused some 400,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States (US) yearly.
One factor is the change from a ole fashioned meat and potato American diet to “heart-healthy” eating which has increased the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and grains. This has prompted the demand for fresh foods that are not in season most of the year. Therefore stores must import fruits and vegetables, thus putting individuals at risk for ingesting foreign pathogens or even pesticides that have been banned in the US for safety reasons. For certain populations, including very young, older adults, and individuals with severe illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or AIDS, foodborne diseases can be fatal.
• What are the clinical symptoms, duration of the disease, and treatment if any? After ingestion, symptoms appear rapidly and abruptly, consistent with diseases caused by preformed toxins. The symptoms include copious vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or nausea. Ingested bacteria do not produce toxin, and the symptoms therefore normally wear off within 24 hours. In contact staphylococcus, antibiotics normally eliminate bacteria that are weak to the antibiotic. However there are a number of antibiotics becoming ineffective to resistant strains.
There are strains of the Staphylococcus aureus that are resistant to most antibiotics. For instance, Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the resistant strains of staph. Staphylococcus infections pose serious risks and must be treated with specific antibiotics. In which there are not many that remain effective. Although most of these infections are readily defeated by your immune system, resistant forms of staph bacteria are on the rise. • What steps can be taken to prevent further outbreaks? Include individual as well as environmental precautions and methods.
Some in home steps that can be taken to prevent further outbreaks are: 1. Wash hands and wash all produce before eating it. ; 2. Avoid using the same kitchen cutting boards and utensils for meats and produce; 3. temperature control, refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees or less. Hot foods should remain hot and cold foods should remain cold. This will avoid unchecked bacterial growths, and 4. Leftovers should be eaten within 3 days and when in doubt throw it out. Environmental precautions and methods are food irradiation.
This process treats foods with invisible waves of energy that damage microorganisms, which breaks chemical bonds in DNA of harmful bacteria. The food irradiation process destroys pathogens and keeps them from replicating. Irradiation prolongs food products’ shelf life and prevents the spread of deadly microorganisms, particularly in ground beef and pork.
References Schelin, J. , Wallin-Carlquist, N. , Thorup Cohn, M. , Lindqvist, R. , Barker, G. C. , & Radstrom, P. (2011). The formation of Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin in food environments and advances in risk assessment. Virulence, 2(6), 1-13.