Breakthrough in food poisoning research could save lives
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Don’t eat the flavor-blasted Goldfish crackers. Um, or the romaine lettuce. Put down the peanut butter. Oh and remember when we had to stop eating Blue Bell Ice Cream that one summer? Heaven help us.
Food poisoning is no joke. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States.
One of the most common causes of food poisoning is a bacterium called Bacillus cereus, a nasty little sucker that secretes the toxins that cause vomiting and diarrhea.
It can contaminate vegetables, rice, pasta, fish and meat and will multiply if these foods are not stored at the correct temperature.
A team of researchers at the Australian National University has made an important discovery about how Bacillus cereus works that could help save the lives of patients with serious bacterial infections, particularly those suffering from food poisoning.
They discovered how the bacterium interacts with the immune system, how it secretes toxins to make people sick and even how it sustains itself. The research team is hopeful it can now find ways to harness the immune system to fight against it, especially in the cases of patients with compromised immune systems.
"We might be able to save patients by weakening the toxin, or in the case of sepsis, dampening inflammatory responses," said lead researcher Anukriti Mathu. "It also means we have therapeutic drug options to further support antibiotic therapies, especially in the face of rising antibiotic resistance."
But as with other health issues and conditions, prevention is better than cure. Simple things like good hand washing and preparing food in accordance with safety recommendations are the first line of defense against food poisoning.
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