Poisoning caused by food containing any one of several heat-stable enterotoxins produced by certain strains of staphylococci. When ingested, the toxin causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, and, in severe cases, prostration and shock. The attack usually lasts less than a day, and fatalities are rare. Hygienic preparation techniques can prevent this form of food poisoning. Food handlers must cook all foods thoroughly, refrigerate them during storage, wash their hands, and clean equipment and surfaces used in food preparation before and after handling foods. Certain foods (meat, poultry, fish, and those containing mayonnaise, eggs, or cream) must be refrigerated and used as soon as possible and cooked until their internal temperatures equal or exceed safe limits.
Patients who contract food poisoning should ingest clear fluids until abdominal pain subsides and then gradually return to a normal diet. Fluid and electrolyte balance is monitored, and supportive therapy is maintained as indicated. Enteric precautions are used until evidence of infection subsides.