Can you get food poisoning but no one else did?

It’s not uncommon for someone to get sick after eating food that’s contaminated. But it’s also not unusual for someone who eats food contaminated by fecal matter (poop) or other bacteria to get food poisoning.

Here’s what you should know about getting a food poisoning that someone else didn’t.

You’re unlikely to get food poisoning as a result of:

  • Eating food that’s been in a restaurant
  • Biting your nails
  • Eating raw fruits or vegetables

This isn’t because you’re immune to getting food poisoning. It’s because food poisoning is caused by bacteria, not by food.

In most cases, you can get food poisoning by eating food that’s been in a restaurant. You might also be at risk if you:

  • Bites your nails
  • Eat raw fruits or vegetables
  • Have been in the hospital
  • Eat a lot of raw fruit or vegetables
  • Eat raw or undercooked meat

If you don’t follow all the other recommendations for treating food poisoning, you might end up with a bad case of food poisoning.

You’re more likely to get food poisoning if:

  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You have a chronic disease
  • You take certain medications, supplements, or other medications
  • You have a condition that keeps you from digesting food well
  • You have been in the hospital for a long time

Here are some of the most common food-borne illnesses.

Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It usually spreads when you eat food that’s been contaminated by animal feces. It can also spread from contaminated water.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Some people have no symptoms at all.

Salmonella can be passed to humans by eating or drinking contaminated food:

  • Salmonella-contaminated chicken and eggs
  • Salmonella-contaminated raw fruits and vegetables

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wait at least 24 hours after eating a food that’s been contaminated with Salmonella to see if you’re infected with the bacteria. If you’re unsure, you should call your doctor right away.

If you do experience symptoms of food poisoning, the CDC recommends that you see your doctor.

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. You might get it from eating or drinking contaminated food.

Campylobacter can cause a flu-like illness that includes:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Campylobacter is usually passed to humans through unpasteurized milk or milk products. You can also get it from eating or drinking contaminated:

  • Raw or undercooked beef
  • Raw or undercooked chicken
  • Raw or undercooked pork

Campylobacter can also be passed to humans through:

  • Cattle and other animals
  • Chicken or eggs that aren’t properly cooked
  • Food contaminated with feces
  • Water contaminated with feces

The CDC recommends that you wait at least 24 hours after eating food that’s been contaminated with Campylobacter to see if you’re infected with the bacteria. If you’re unsure, you should call your doctor right away.

C. difficile

C. difficile is another type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It’s usually passed between people who are in close contact with each other. It’s also passed from person to person through the fecal-oral route.

People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV, can be more likely to get C. difficile.

Symptoms of C. difficile can include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and/or stomach pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Vomit

If you think you might have C. difficile, you should see your doctor. They can prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.

Yeast infections

Yeast infections can sometimes be caused by eating foods that have been contaminated with Candida. If you have a yeast infection, you might also develop a rash.

Symptoms of a yeast infection can include:

  • Redness and irritation of the skin
  • Burning or itching
  • Pain while urinating
  • Pain while having bowel movements
  • Urinating more often than usual

If you think you might have a yeast infection, you should see your doctor. They can prescribe an antifungal medication to treat your infection.

Giardiasis

Giardiasis is another infection that can be passed from eating contaminated food. You might develop it if you have a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of giardiasis can include:

  • Discharge from the rectum
  • Stools that smell bad
  • Watery stools

If you think you might have giardiasis, you should see your doctor. They can prescribe an antibiotic to treat your infection.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating food that’s contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. You might get it if you:

  • Eat food that’s been contaminated with Listeria
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Eat food that’s been contaminated with raw milk

Listeriosis can cause a very severe illness. While it’s usually milder in children, you might have a very severe case. Symptoms include:

  • Low-grade fevers
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back and muscle pain
  • Severe tiredness
  • General feeling of weakness and exhaustion

Listeriosis can be fatal. If you have a weakened immune system, you should see your doctor right away.

Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a type of bacterial infection that can be caused by eating food that’s been contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus. You might get it if you:

  • Eat food that’s been contaminated with Staphylococcus
  • Eat food that’s had the bacteria living on it for a long time

Toxic shock syndrome can cause:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • High temperature
  • Vomiting and bloody stools
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures

If you think that you might have a bacterial infection, you should see your doctor. They can prescribe an antibiotic to treat your infection.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be passed from animals to humans. You might get it if you:

  • Have bitten an animal
  • Touch the animal’s skin
  • Drink milk from an animal that carries the bacteria

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include:

  • A rash that starts on the skin and spreads to the entire body
  • A headache
  • A stiff neck
  • Achiness
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Loss of balance
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss

The symptoms of Lyme disease can be vague or severe depending on the severity of your infection.

Final thoughts

If you can’t remember what food you ate or which bacteria you had, don’t panic. You can still get sick with food poisoning.

If your symptoms are severe or if you have a weakened immune system, you should see your doctor to get treatment.

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