Staph aureus food poisoning is an illness that results from eating food contaminated with a toxin produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
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, such as tuna salad, potato salad, and macaroni salad), poultry and other egg products, and casseroles.
The bacteria produce a toxin in the food, which causes most of the symptoms. Risk factors include:
The disease is common in the U.S.
Symptoms usually appear within 1 - 6 hours after eating contaminated food. Usually, symptoms last only 2 days or less. They may include:
A stool culture (if performed) is positive for Staph aureus.
The goal of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals) lost by vomiting or diarrhea. Antidiarrheal medications may be used, but are often not needed.
To avoid dehydration, you or your child should drink water and electrolyte solutions to replace fluids lost by vomiting. A variety of pleasant-tasting electrolyte solutions are available over-the-counter. Solutions to try for children:
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.
Full recovery is expected. Recovery usually occurs in 24 to 48 hours.
Dehydration can develop.
Call your health care provider if:
Wash your hands thoroughly before and after all food preparation. Thoroughly wash food preparation implements before using them on other foods. Refrigerate meats and leftovers promptly. Food can become contaminated by juices from poultry and other meats.