Digestive Health

Updated 05 May 2017

How bad food makes you sick

While you know that potato salad you ate at the company picnic made you sick, you may be too miserable to care about exactly how it made you ill.

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However, Purdue University researchers care. Whether food-borne bacteria makes a person sick depends on a variety of factors, they say, and understanding that infection process could help prevent such illnesses from occurring.

Several factors at work
They did the first comprehensive study of the virulence of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and found that how well the bacteria attaches to cells isn't the only determining factor in whether a person becomes ill or in the severity of the illness.

Other factors at work include the levels at which the pathogen attaches to intestinal cells, penetrates cell walls and then moves into other organs, the Purdue researchers found. Their study appears in the June issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Strains of Listeria studied
Listeria is one of the deadliest food-borne bacteria. It sickens about 2 500 people each year in the United States and has a fatality rate of 20 percent, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Purdue researchers studied 25 strains of Listeria, including four that have been responsible for 90 percent of listeriosis outbreaks in the last two decades. For their study, the researchers introduced the Listeria strains to human intestinal cells in laboratory dishes and into mice.

The scientists wanted to determine how tightly the Listeria bacteria bound to the cells, how quickly they invade cells and to which organs they spread. - (HealthDayNews)

 

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Digestive Health Expert

Dr. Estelle Wilken is a Senior Specialist in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Tygerberg Hospital. She obtained her MBChB in 1976, her MMed (Int) in 1991 and her gastroenterology registration in 1995.

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