Food-borne and Diarrheal Diseases

Food-borne illness is caused by consuming food or beverages that are contaminated by certain bacteria, viruses or parasites. Some disease may be caused by toxins or poisonous chemicals if they are present in the food. Individuals may also be exposed to these same pathogens through recreational water sports, contact with animals and their environment, and person-to-person spread.

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Food-borne and Diarrheal Diseases

  • Botulism - Botulism is a serious, potentially fatal illness caused by a type of poison. The poison – known as botulinum toxin – is produced by a kind of bacteria. Botulinum toxin is the strongest poison known to science.
  • Campylobacteriosis– Campylobacter, often called campy, are bacteria that can cause diarrheal disease in humans. The bacteria are common in chickens, but don’t make the chicken sick.
  • Cryptosporidiosis - This illness is most frequently associated with contaminated water. The disease is caused by parasites that can live in the intestines of animals and infected humans.
  • CyclosporiasisCyclospora cayatanensis is a microscopic parasite with causes prolonged diarrhea due to consuming contaminated food or water. People traveling to tropical or subtropical regions of the world are at increased risk for infection.
  • Escherichia coli -There are hundreds of different strains of E. coli and most strains do not make people sick.  The most serious strains are called shiga toxin producing e-coli (STEC) that can cause bloody diarrhea.
  • Giardiasis – Giardiasis is sometimes known as “beaver fever” because beavers (as well as dogs, cats, horses and cows) are a major reservoir for the parasite that causes infection.
  • Hepatitis A – The hepatitis A virus (HAV) can cause liver disease.  The virus spreads more easily where there is poor sanitary conditions and personal hygiene.  A vaccine is available to prevent getting this disease.
  • Listeriosis - Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, has recently been recognized as an important public health problem in the United States.
  • Norovirus – This group of viruses cause “stomach flu” or gastroenteritis in people.  Individuals may become very sick with acute vomiting and diarrhea but usually the symptoms last only 1-2 days.  These viruses are the most common cause of food-borne outbreaks.
  • Salmonella - Most persons with salmonellosis get diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.
  • Scombroid Poisoning - Scombroid poisoning can occur by eating certain types of fish that were not properly refrigerated or stored.
  • Shigellosis - There are many different types of Shigella. One type, Shigella sonnei, causes over two-thirds of the shigellosis in the United States. A second type, Shigella flexneri, accounts for almost all of the rest. Other types of Shigella are rare in this country, but are important causes of disease in the developing world.
  • Vibriosis - There are multiple species of Vibrio that cause illness, including V. parahaemolyticus. Illness can be severe and is caused by consuming contaminated raw oysters and other shellfish or contact with contaminated salt water.