Australia’s Most Common Food-borne Illnesses

April 3, 2016

The world is full of tiny microorganisms that we can’t see and which generally do no damage to us. However, if we manage to come across the wrong types of microorganisms, it’s possible for us to become very sick.

The term “food poisoning” is used to refer to a wide range of illnesses caused by consuming a contaminated food or beverage. Often, this poisoning is caused by viruses, toxins, bacteria or less commonly – parasites.

Food poisoning is a relatively common ailment that affects somewhere in the region of 5.4 million Australians each year.

Types of food poisoning

Foodborne illnesses most commonly occur as a result of pathogens getting into food, the most common types in Australia include:

  • Poisoning caused by toxins such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium perfringens
  • Viral poisoning such as Rotavirus, Hepatitis A and Norovirus
  • Bacterial poisoning such as Listeria, E.Coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella

Most of these bugs can be easily transferred from one person to another without the presence of obvious symptoms or can be spread through contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms of food poisoning

The symptoms of food poisoning can range from mildly unpleasant to incredibly serious depending on the contamination involved. Below are some common, and not so common, symptoms of foodborne illnesses.

  • Vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea
  • Dizziness, sweats, fever
  • Cramps, body pain, headaches
  • Tingling in the limbs, loss of sight

In some cases, people suffering from food poisoning can experience extremely serious reactions, such as brain damage, miscarriage, paralysis, meningitis, heart failure and even death. The best and primary way to keep people safe from food poisoning is by following proper food hygiene and handling practices.