Food Poisoning - Diagnosis

An important step in diagnosing food poisoning is studying the behavior of groups of people. Doctors try to find out if a number of people have eaten the same food and have the same symptoms. If that is the case, the food may have been contaminated. Diagnosis of food poisoning can be confirmed with a stool culture. A sample of feces is taken from the patient. The sample can then be studied to see whether the bacteria that cause food poisoning are present. Laboratory tests can also be conducted on the contaminated food. The bacteria present can be detected.

The diagnosis of botulism presents different problems. First, the characteristics of botulism are very different from those of other forms of food poisoning. Second, a rapid diagnosis is essential. A person who has botulism can become ill and die very quickly.

Many cases of food poisoning are never diagnosed. People may not even realize that they are sick. In most cases, the symptoms of food poisoning disappear quickly.

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