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Bacterial Food Poisoning and Blood Infection Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 30, 2011

Introduction to Bacterial Food Poisoning and Blood Infection

Many types of bacterial species live in the soil, water, on the skin, and even within the intestines of human beings. Most bacteria participate in orderly relationships with their hosts (the creatures they live upon). There is often a condition of symbiosis ( sim -be- OH -sis) – a successful “living together.” For example, Escherichia (esh-er- IKE -ee-ah) coli ( KOH -lie), often abbreviated as E. coli, is a type of bacillus commonly found in the colon (large intestine) of humans and other animals. Normally, E. coli lives in symbiosis with its human body host. These bacteria, along with many others, help produce certain B vitamins as well as sulfur-containing amino acids, which are then absorbed into the human bloodstream. In return, the E. coli benefit by consuming glucose and other organic molecules found within the large intestine. Hence, the individual human being successfully lives together with the millions of E. coli and other bacteria in the colon.

Exotoxins - "Outside Poisons"

Many bacteria produce exotoxins ( EKS -oh- tahk -sins) or “outside poisons,” and then release these poisons into the surrounding environment. Even some types of E. coli bacteria, for example, when they are consumed in fecal-contaminated food or water, result in bacterial food poisoning. The accidentally consumed E. coli can release exotoxins, severely irritating the walls of the stomach and intestines, and giving the affected person a really bad case of traveler’s diarrhea.

Endotoxins - "Inside Poisons"

The other major problem associated with numerous bacteria are endotoxins ( EN -doh- tahk -sins). These “inner poisons” are contained within the cell walls of certain gram-negative bacteria. Salmonella ( SAL -moh- nel -AH) bacteria, for instance, are a genus of rod-shaped bacilli consisting of more than 1,400 separate species, most of which contain endotoxins in their cell walls. When such Salmonella are consumed in contaminated food (like raw chicken or hamburger), they may cause severe bacterial food poisoning.

Bacteremia (Septicemia)

E. coli or other bacteria sometimes enter the bloodstream, perhaps through a dirty open wound in the surface of the skin. The result is bacteremia (bak-ter- EE -me-ah), alternately called septicemia (sep-tih- SEE -me-ah) – “a condition of bacteria or rotting” ( sept ) within the “blood” (- emia ). Bacteremia (septicemia) in our normally sterile human bloodstream can create severe fever and widespread scarring and infections.

Bacteria Imbalance

Finally, various health problems may result when the normal delicate balance among different types of bacteria within the human body is suddenly disrupted. Consider the excessive and prolonged use of general antibiotics, such as penicillin. Too much penicillin, taken for too long, can destroy beneficial bacteria and allow antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria to develop. As these resistant bacteria multiply, they can create infections that are very difficult to treat.

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:  Bacteria and Viruses Test

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