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What are some common food-borne illnesses?

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Salmonella infection, Shigella infection and E. coli are bacterial foodborne illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral gastroenteritis, hepatitis A and norovirus are viral foodborne germs. The CDC’s 2011 estimates list Salmonella and norovirus as two of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses in the United States.

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Salmonella bacteria is found in raw poultry, beef, eggs, unwashed fruit and alfalfa sprouts grown in contaminated soil, reports the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. Because some strains are antibiotic-resistant, Salmonella outbreaks pose a threat to public health. Children are especially prone to the infection. Symptoms of infection include cramps, diarrhea, nausea, fever and headache that can last for up to a week.

An individual can become infected with Shigella after ingesting even a small number of the bacteria and can transmit the infection to others, even if asymptomatic, explains NIAID. Individuals often contract this intestinal disease after consuming food and beverages contaminated by infected food handlers or by swimming in contaminated water. Shigellosis outbreaks are common in warm climates where overcrowding and inadequate hygiene are present. Symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain and usually begin within two days following contact with the Shigella bacteria.

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