Bacillus Cereus (Food Poisoning)

Bacillus Cereus food poisoning is a sudden intestinal ailment caused by two different toxins produced by the bacteria Bacillus Cereus. The heat resistant toxin produces symptoms of vomiting while the heat sensitive toxin produces diarrhea.

Where does it occur?

The bacillus cereus bacteria occurs worldwide in soil.

How is it transmitted?

The bacteria are usually transmitted by eating food that is contaminated with it. The heat resistant toxin is classically associated  with eating fried rice. The heat sensitive toxin is commonly associated with eating food that has been cooked and then left out at room temperature for hours.

Is it contagious from person to person?


What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is increased in travelers who frequently eat at buffets.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Symptoms of vomiting usually starts within 30 minutes- 6 hours of ingesting contaminated food. Symptoms of diarrhea develop 6-24 hours after ingesting contaminated food.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The heat resistant toxin causes vomiting within 30 minutes to 6 hours and can be associated with headache and flushing.

The heat sensitive toxin causes watery diarrhea within 6-24 hours and may be associated with crampy colicky abdominal pain and vomiting as well.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment is mainly supportive, with fluids. The diarrhea will resolve by itself.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose illness?

The diagnosis is made based on presenting symptoms, although the bacteria can be cultured from stool samples as well as contaminated food sources.

What preventive measures can be taken?

One should avoid eating at buffets and food left at room temperature for prolonged periods.

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