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Definition Return to top
Staph aureus food poisoning is an illness that results from eating food contaminated with a toxin produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Causes Return to top
Staphylococcus aureus food poisoning is often caused when a food handler contaminates food products that are served or stored at room- or refrigerator temperature. Common examples of such foods are desserts (especially custards and cream filled- or topped desserts), salads (especially those containing mayonnaise), or baked goods.
The bacteria multiplies rapidly in the food, and a large colony of bacteria may be present without evidence of food spoilage. Risk factors include:
Symptoms usually appear within 4 to 6 hours. The disease is common in the U.S.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
A stool culture (if performed) is positive for Staph aureus.
Treatment Return to top
The objective of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals) lost by vomiting or diarrhea. Antidiarrheal medications are generally not needed.
Self-care measures to avoid dehydration include drinking water and electrolyte solutions to replace fluids lost by vomiting. A variety of pleasant-tasting electrolyte solutions are available over-the-counter.
People with diarrhea who are unable to take fluids by mouth because of nausea or vomiting may need intravenous fluids. This is true especially for small children.
People taking diuretics ("water pills") may need to stop taking them during the acute episode. Ask your health care provider for instructions.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Full recovery is expected. Recovery usually occurs in 24 to 48 hours.
Possible Complications Return to top
Dehydration can develop.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if symptoms do not resolve in 48 hours, severe dehydration develops, blood in stools is noted, or if other new symptoms develop.
Prevention Return to top
Wash the hands thoroughly before and after all food preparation. Food preparation implements should be thoroughly washed before they are used on other foods. Refrigerate meats and leftovers promptly. Food can become contaminated by juices from poultry and other meats.Update Date: 7/25/2007 Updated by: Kenneth M. Wener, MD, Department of Infectious Diseases. Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.