POISONING CAUSED BY FOOD
a. Staphylococcal Food Poisoning. Food poisoning usually occurs within
three to six hours after the food has been consumed. The most common of all food
poisoning in the United States is staphylococcal food poisoning. Coagulase-positive
staphylococci can grow in foods such as milk, ice cream, cream-filled bakery goods,
rapidly cured ham, and potato salad when these foods are left too long at room
temperature. A person eats the food which contains staphylococcus enterotoxin, and
that toxin enters the person's small intestine, and three to six hours later the person
becomes ill very suddenly.
b. Signs/Symptoms of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning.
(1) The illness usually begins suddenly with nausea and vomiting. The
person may also experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headache, and/or fever.
Headache and sweating often occur when other symptoms are moderately severe. In
very severe cases, the patient may become physically exhausted, and his blood
pressure may fall.
(2) Symptoms of shock have been observed. If the patient is in shock due
to loss of body fluids and electrolytes resulting in decreased blood circulation,
administer a saline solution intravenously immediately. The amount of fluid given
should be governed by the patient's age and the severity of the vomiting and diarrhea.
(3) When individuals rather than groups of people become ill with symptoms
resembling those of staphyloccal food poisoning, it is important to eliminate other
possible causes first, causes such as appendicitis or the onset of some infectious
(4) There is no specific drug or serum for staphylococcal therapy. Fatal
cases usually involve the very young, the very old, or the debilitated patient.
POISON CONTROL CENTERS AND REFERENCES
a. Poison Control Centers. Poison Control Centers in the United States were
first organized in 1953, the first center being in Chicago. The purpose was to form a
network for sharing information learned about how to treat poisonings. These centers
come under the U.S. Public Health Service and today are a clearing house for poison
information. The chief purpose is to exchange information with the many local control
centers which exist through the country. Major medical centers have these poison
control centers. Poison control centers are located in major medical centers and
operate on a 24-hour basis. Each medical facility should try to use the services of the
nearest center. Become familiar with the center nearest you because it will probably be
your most valuable resource.