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Food Poisoning Incubation Period: How Long Do I Have to Wait?

Food Poisoning Incubation Period: How Long Do I Have to Wait?

The most common cause of food poisoning or foodborne illnesses is food contaminated with viruses, bacteria, and even parasites. Contamination can occur anytime from when the food is harvested, up to when it is packaged and sold. Bacteria and viruses can even contaminate the food after it is brought home especially, if it is stored in a contaminated environment. Different contaminants have a different food poisoning incubation period compared to others. Learn more here.

Food Poisoning Incubation Period

Our gut is a great breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Our gut has bacteria that aid in digestion. It is also where most food and nutrients are broken down for absorption. When invasive microorganisms enter the gut in small amounts, they don’t immediately cause harm. They incubate and grow before they cause signs and symptoms of food poisoning.

Following this, food poisoning incubation periods greatly vary. Different bacteria and viruses can cause an onset of symptoms hours after ingestion while some can even take days and weeks. Symptoms and severity of food poisoning may also vary depending on what microorganism contaminated the food. Other bacteria and viruses may cause fever and stomach cramps while others cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Common Foodborne Illnesses and Their Food Poisoning Incubation Periods

Anisakis simplex

It takes 12 hrs or a few days before the onset of symptoms. This is usually found in saltwater fish and can cause coughing and abdominal pain.

Bacillus cereus food poisoning

The food poisoning incubation period is around 10-16 hrs before the onset of symptoms. This is usually found in many foods including meat, soups, sauces, and other meals that have sat out too long. It cause diarrhea and vomiting for 1-2 days.

Campylobacteriosis

It takes 2 to 5 days before the onset of symptoms. Usually found in meat contaminated with animal feces, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water and raw or undercooked meat and poultry. Can cause fever and diarrhea for 2-10 days

Botulism

It takes 3-30 days in infants and 18-36 hrs in children and adults before the onset of symptoms. This can be found in honey, improperly canned food, potato baked in aluminum foil, fermented fish. Botulism is a medical emergency. It can cause respiratory failure and death if not treated.

Perfringens food poisoning

It takes 8-16 hrs before the onset of symptoms. This is usually found in beef, poultry, and meat-based sauces left for a long time in steam tables or room temperature. It can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.

E. coli infection

This takes 1-3 days before the onset of symptoms. E. coli is found in water or food contaminated with human feces. This can cause watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps for 3-7 days.

Hemorrhagic colitis

It takes 1-8 days before the onset of symptoms. Usually found in undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water, juice and raw vegetables or fruits. This may cause severe diarrhea with no fever and can also lead to kidney failure.

Hepatitis A

It takes at least 15 days and an average of 28 days before symptoms show up. It is usually found in raw food, food not heated properly, shellfish, and contaminated water. Hepatitis A can cause flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain and nausea that lasts for weeks.

Listeriosis

The food poisoning incubation period can take from 9 to 48 hrs for diarrhea, nausea and fever to manifest. It usually takes up to 2-6 weeks before it progresses. It may caus stillbirth in pregnant women and bacteremia or meningitis in immunocompromised individuals. The bacteria can be found in unpasteurized milk and milk products.

Noroviruses

The food poisoning incubation period is 12-48 hrs before signs and symptoms appear. Noroviruses are usually found in uncooked food, contaminated water and shellfish from contaminated water. They usually cause diarrhea and vomiting

Rotavirus

It takes 1-3 hrs before symptoms show up. This is usually found in raw meat and food that came in contact with infected food.

Salmonella Infection: Symptoms and Prevention

Salmonella

The food poisoning incubation period is 6-48 hrs before symptoms manifest. Usually found in meat, eggs, and other dairy and poultry products. It cause vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps for 4-7 days.

Shigellosis

This takes up to 4-7 days before the onset of symptoms. It can be found in uncooked food and contaminated water. It causes fever, diarrhea, and blood and mucus in the stool.

Staphylococcal food poisoning

This takes 1-6 hrs before signs and symptoms start to show. It is usually found in meats, dairy, dairy products, and produce that is not refrigerated properly. This food poisoning can cause a sudden onset of severe abdominal pain and vomiting.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection

This takes 4-96 hours before symptoms manifest. It is usually found in seafood and shellfish that is uncooked or undercooked. It can cause watery and sometimes bloody stools with diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.

Vibrio vulnificus infection

The food poisoning incubation period is 1-7 days before signs and symptoms appear. It is usually found in undercooked or raw seafood, especially oysters. Aside from diarrhea and abdominal pain, it may also cause bleeding within the skin. This infection can be fatal to those who are immunocompromised or have liver diseases.

Key takeaway

The food poisoning incubation period varies greatly depending on the microorganism that contaminated the food. Symptoms may manifest within hours and sometimes, after weeks. Severity of the symptoms may also vary.

Learn more about Foodborne Infections here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Food Poisoning Symptoms, https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

Food Poisoning, https://www.in.gov/isdh/files/foodbill.pdf

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

Food Poisoning Symptoms, https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html#:~:text=Symptoms%20begin%2030%20minutes%20to,Most%20people%20also%20have%20diarrhea.

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

Bacteria and Viruses, https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-poisoning/bacteria-and-viruses

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses, https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/what-you-need-know-about-foodborne-illnesses

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

Food poisoning, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20356230

Accessed April 29, 2021

 

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Written by Hazel Caingcoy Updated May 19
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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