Risk Factors for Food poisoning


About risk factors: Risk factors for Food poisoning are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Food poisoning makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Food poisoning. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Food poisoning. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Food poisoning in various sources includes:

Risk factors discussion: Some people are at greater risk for bacterial infections because of their age or immune status. Young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, and people with lowered immunity are at greatest risk. 1

Some persons at particularly high risk should take more precautions. 

  • Pregnant women, the elderly, and those weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe infections such as Listeria and should be particularly careful not to consume undercooked animal products.  They should avoid soft French style cheeses, pates, uncooked hot dogs and sliced deli meats, which have been sources of Listeria infections.  Persons at high risk should also avoid alfalfa sprouts and unpasteurized juices.
  • A bottle-fed infant is at higher risk for severe infections with Salmonella or other bacteria that can grow in a bottle of warm formula if it is left at room temperature for many hours.  Particular care is needed to be sure the baby’s bottle is cleaned and disinfected and that leftover milk formula or juice is not held in the bottle for many hours.
  • Persons with liver disease are susceptible to infections with a rare but dangerous microbe called Vibrio vulnificus, found in oysters.  They should avoid eating raw oysters.

All persons. Infants, elderly, and the immunocompromised at greatest risk of serious illness and death. 3

1. excerpt from Bacteria and Foodborne Illness: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Foodborne Infections General: DBMD
3. excerpt from Foodborne Infections: DBMD

Last revision: May 27, 2003

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