Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria:
Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that causes staph infections and a frequent culprit in cases of food poisoning, generally due to improper food handling and inadequate hygiene by food handlers. Rather than causing an infection directly, the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria produce a toxin which is what causes the illness.
Where Staphylococcus Aureus is Found:
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are found on human skin, hair, noses, throats and infected cuts and sores. The bacteria can live on the skin of people who are otherwise healthy. By some estimates, the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria live on the skin of up to 25 percent of people. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria reproduce very quickly at room temperatures, and produce a toxin that can't be destroyed by cooking.
How Staphylococcus Aureus is Transmitted:
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are mostly transmitted via person-to-person contact and through food as a result of improper food handling and inadequate hygiene on the part of foodservice workers.
The foods involved in outbreaks of poisoning from Staphylococcus aureus include meats and poultry, as well as other proteins such as eggs and tofu. Sandwiches and deli salads (tuna salad, egg salad, macaroni salad etc.) are also frequently involved in Staphylococcus aureus outbreaks. Dairy products including milk, cheese and cream-filled pastries can also be contaminated. Finally, because the Staphylococcus aureus toxin isn't killed by cooking, reheated foods of all kinds which have been handled by infected workers can also cause illness.
Staphylococcus Aureus Symptoms:
Symptoms of Staphylococcus aureus intoxication include severe nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, headache, muscle cramping and changes in blood pressure and heart rates can also occur. The incubation period of Staphylococcus aureus is short, with symptoms appearing in as little as an hour after the contaminated food has been eaten. Symptoms are generally felt within two to four hours. The illness itself usually lasts two to three days, but it can last longer if there is extreme dehydration.
You can read more here about food poisoning symptoms
Preventing Staphylococcus Aureus:
Preventing Staphylococcus aureus sickness is complicated by the fact that the illness is caused by the toxins which are produced by the bacteria rather than from the bacteria alone. Although the bacteria themselves are easily killed by cooking, the toxins that actually cause the sickness are not. Therefore, the usual regime of heating foods to 165°F
to kill the harmful pathogens isn't enough. Thus, the best thing you can do to prevent illness from Staphylococcus aureus is to prevent the food from becoming contaminated in the first place. That means washing hands
frequently, and avoiding cross-contamination
.More Food-Borne Pathogens: