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Friday, February 8, 2013

Food Poisoning Incubation Periods

It's a common belief that when you come down with a case of food poisoning (aka stomach flu) it was something in the last meal you ate that caused it. While this may be true some or even most of the time, the thing is, it isn't always true. Depending on which type of bacteria, virus, or parasite you ingest it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 70 days or more to incubate and cause those all too wretched upset stomach symptoms.

Teach your kids about food poisoning with GIANT Microbe plushies!

The subject is something that's come up due to my writing the "How to make a DIY electrolyte drink" blog post about my recent bout of food poisoning which, thankfully, took just a few days to recover from. I still felt a bit shaky two days ago but then hubby pointed out it was probably because I hadn't eaten much of anything for four days. LOL

A lot of people asked "What did you eat?" or "Where did you get poisoned?" which made me realize there's still confusion about how food poisoning works. Without tests it's hard to definitively know what I ate that caused my infection.

Just take a look at the incubation period for these different types of bacterial, viral, and parasitic causes of food poisoning. Their names are links to detailed descriptions on the FoodSafety.gov website that include the most common sources of infection, length of the incubation period, duration of illness, what to do, and how to prevent infection.

Incubation Period: 1-6 hours

Bacillus cereus
Incubation Period: Diarrheal: 6-15 hours
Incubation Period: Emetic (vomiting): 30 minutes to 6 hours

Clostridium perfringens*
Incubation Period: 6-24 hours

Norovirus (Norwalk Virus)*
Incubation Period: 12-48 hours

Incubation Period: 12-72 hours

Incubation Period Infants: 3-30 days
Incubation Period Children and Adults: 12-72 hours

Incubation Period: 1 -7 days (usually 1-3 days)

E. coli*
Incubation Period: 1-10 days

Incubation Period: 2-5 days

Incubation Period: 3-70 days

Incubation Period: Approximately 1-3 weeks

* These are the most common causes of food poisoning

(P.S. You can follow GIANT Microbes on Twitter at @GIANTmicrobes)


This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek advice from your physician or other qualified health professionals with any questions you may have regarding food poisoning or any medical condition(s). This is simply my personal experience that I wanted to share with you to encourage others to be pro-active about their health.

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