Foodborne Illness

Common bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning. An informational site sponsored by Marler Clark


  • Foodborne Illness

    The CDC estimates that 76 million foodborne illness, or food poisoning, cases occur in the United States every year, which means that one in four Americans contracts a foodborne illness annually after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus, and Listeria.

    • Toxoplasma Food Poisoning

      Toxoplasma gondii is one of the world’s most common parasites. It is the second leading cause of deaths attributed to foodborne illness in the United States, and the third leading cause of foodborne illness hospitalizations. It is estimated that 22.5% of the population over the age of 12 has been infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. For some populations, this figure is as high as 95%.

      The most common sources of toxoplasmosis, the disease caused by Toxoplasma, are undercooked meat, animal feces, and transmission from mother to unborn…

    • Botulism Food Poisoning


    • Cryptosporidium Food Poisoning

      Cryptosporidium parvum, also known as “Crypto,” is a parasite found in food and water that has been contaminated by feces from humans or animals. It is highly resistant to normal levels of chlorine, and can survive in pools and drinking water. People usually get cryptosporidium from swallowing contaminated water, eating contaminated food, or coming into contact with contaminated feces. Ingestion of as few as two to ten cryptosporidium oocysts, or parasites, can cause infection.

      Over 10 cryptosporidium outbreaks from contaminated water…

    • Clostridium Perfringens Food Poisoning

      Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans. Clostridium perfringens and its toxins are found everywhere in the environment, but human infection is most likely to come from eating food with Clostridium perfringens in it. Food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens fairly common, but is typically not too severe, and is often mistaken for the 24-hour flu.

      Source of Clostridium perfringens

      The majority of outbreaks are associated with undercooked meats, often in large…

    • MRSA Food Poisoning

      MRSA, or Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is the form of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (or “staph”) that is resistant to antibiotics. Originally a disease contracted only in hospitals, it is now originating in the community as well, and has recently been cited as a source of foodborne illness. About one percent of the population carries MRSA, and the disease infects 32 per 100,000 people in the United States. Around 6 in 10,000 people die from it each year. 

      Sources of MRSA

      While MRSA bacteria…

    • Cronobacter sakazakii Food Poisoning

      Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacterium that causes a rare but often fatal infection of the bloodstream and central nervous system. Infants with weakened immune systems, particularly premature infants, are most likely to contract an Cronobacter infection, although the bacteria have caused illnesses in all age groups.

      Cronobacter sakazakii in Infant Formula

      Most cases of Cronobacter sakazakii come from powdered infant formula contaminated with the bacterium. However, this type of infection is still very rare.…

    • Clostridium Botulinum (Botulism) Food Poisoning

      What is Botulism?

      Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium Botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.

      Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below…

    • Shigella Food Poisoning

      Shigella is the bacterium that causes the disease shigellosis, also known as bacillary dysentery. Shigella is one of the most easily transmitted bacterial diarrheas, since it can occur after fewer than 100 bacteria are ingested. While reported cases of Shigella range between 14,000 and 20,000 annually, with the majority of these cases occurring between July and October. Shigella Sonnei is the most common type of Shigella. It accounts for over two-thirds of cases of shigellosis in the United States.

    • Salmonella Food Poisoning

      Salmonella is the second most common intestinal infection in the United States. More than 7,000 cases of Salmonella were confirmed in 2009; however the majority of cases go unreported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 1 million people in the U.S. contract Salmonella each year, and that an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and almost 400 deaths occur from Salmonella poisoning, according to a 2011 report.

    • Norovirus Food Poisoning

      Norovirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis, or what we commonly think of as stomach flu symptoms. It causes 23 million cases of gastroenteritis per year, or over half of all gastroenteritis cases in the U.S., and is the second most common virus after the common cold. 

      Norovirus is usually transmitted from the feces to the mouth, either by drinking contaminated food or water or by passing from person to person. Because noroviruses are easily transmitted, are resistant to common disinfectants, and are hard to contain using normal…

    • Listeria Food Poisoning

      Listeria is a bacterium that causes a serious infection called listeriosis. Around 300 deaths are caused by Listeria infection each year, according to estimates from a 2011 CDC report.

      Listeria bacteria are most commonly found in raw foods. Vegetables can be contaminated by soil and water carrying bacteria. Listeria is also found in raw animal products, such as meat and cheese.

      Babies can be born with Listeria if the mother eats contaminated food during pregnancy. The death rate among newborns…

    • Campylobacter Food Poisoning

      Campylobacter jejuni  is the most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness in the United States. Over 6,000 cases of Campylobacter infection were reported in 2009 alone, but many cases are not reported to public health authorities. A 2011 report from the CDC estimates that Campylobacter causes approximately 845,000 illnesses in the United States each year.

      Campylobacter is found most often in food, particularly in chicken. Food is contaminated when it comes into contact with animal feces.  Any raw…

    • Hepatitis A Food Poisoning

      Hepatitis A is the only common foodborne disease preventable by vaccine. It is one of five hepatitis viruses that infect the liver. While hepatitis B and C can turn into chronic hepatitis, hepatitis A generally does not; although it can lead to liver failure and death.

      Hepatitis A is rare in the United States, with 30,000 to 50,000 cases occurring each year. However, in most other countries, poorer sanitation systems lead to easier transmission of the disease, and therefore more cases.

      Hepatitis A is a contagious disease. It travels…

    • E. coli Food Poisoning

      Escherichia coli (E. coli) are bacteria that live in human and animal intestines. Shiga toxin-producing strains of E. coli, or STECs, are responsible for most food-related E. coliinfections. E. coli O157:H7 and other STECs like E. coli O145 and E. coli O121:H19 produce a toxin called Shiga toxin, which causes illness in humans. E. coli bacteria do not make animals such as livestock and deer, which harbor the bacteria in their intestines, ill.

      It is estimated that <>E. coli infections account…

    • Ask and attorney about a foodborne illness

    • FAQs about foodborne illnesses