If you consume food that is contaminated by germs (or toxins), you will probably end up with food poisoning. However, you might not know the exact cause of it. It might have been caused by bacteria or virus. Sometimes, certain parasites can also cause food poisoning. You may also suffer from food poisoning if you eat food that is adulterated by harmful pesticides.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Some of the major symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, nausea, and fever. You may experience one or more of these symptoms when you eat food that has microbes in it. In some cases, you may face a combination of two or three of the symptoms mentioned here.
How Can You Conclude That You Have Food Poisoning?
By analyzing the conditions under which the food was cooked, the color, smell, or texture of the food you had in the past few hours, you can conclude that you have food poisoning. You will get to know that you are actually suffering from food poisoning if the food you have eaten within the last few hours was undercooked, smelled funny, or tasted “off.”
If others who ate the same food as you seem to suffer from the same symptoms, then probably, you and the others are experiencing food poisoning. In some scenarios, you can conclude that you have food poisoning if your symptoms starts suddenly (out of the blue).
When Do Microbes Spread to the Food We Eat?
Microbes, such as viruses and bacteria, spread in the food products that we eat while food is grown or harvested (like the growth and harvesting of paddy/rice). These microbes can also affect our food and raw meat when it is prepared or processed. The same thing may happen while storing or shipping food. The risk of contagion with food poisoning begins here.
Is It Possible to Catch Food Poisoning From Someone Else?
Food poisoning, by itself, is not contagious. But, the actual germ, like the virus or bacteria that causes the poisoning is contagious. When a person affected by food poisoning vomits or suffers from diarrhea, the germs present in their stools or vomit may spread to other people. For instance, if the affected person does not wash their hands properly after vomiting or coming out of the toilet, the microbes will still be present in their hands. These microbes may be passed on to food products that the person touches with their hands. When another person handles or eats this food, the microbes in the food will again be passed on to them.
So, you now have the answer to your question, “Is it possible to catch food poisoning from someone else?”
Are Viruses That Cause Food Poisoning Contagious?
Stomach flu or “viral gastroenteritis” is nothing but an intestinal infection. There are several ways through which viral gastroenteritis spreads. One way is by getting into contact with an infected person or a person who is suffering from food poisoning (caused by a virus). Another way is by consuming contaminated water or food.
Therefore, such viruses causing food poisoning are contagious. Then again, it all depends on the person who is affected. Some can be easily infected, whereas others may not be affected but can act as carriers of the virus.
Risk of Spreading Food Poisoning Through Bodily Fluids
Through bodily fluids, like vomit or diarrhea, microbes that cause food poisoning in one person can spread to others. Thus, there is a high risk of spreading food poisoning from one person to another via fluids from the body. This is why lots of people consider food poisoning infectious, and it becomes true in many cases.
What Should You Do When You Have Food Poisoning?
When you are suffering from food poisoning, make sure you stay home so that you get adequate rest and you don’t spread it to others. Go out only if there is a dire necessity. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
We cannot say for sure whether a particular case of food poisoning is contagious or not. However, since the microbes causing food poisoning are contagious, you need to assume that your case (if you’re facing it) is contagious, to be on the safer side. It is also extremely important to practice proper hand hygiene. Last but not least, get the advice of your healthcare provider.
When you follow the above measures, you can prevent the germs causing food poisoning from spreading to others. But as the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure,” eat food that is properly cooked, store food in refrigerators (if necessary), and avoid eating unhealthy food.
Stay healthy, stay safe!