Many bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, including:
Yersinia, found in pork
Staphylococcus, found in dairy products, meat, and eggs
Shigella, found in water and often swimming pools
Salmonella, found in meat, dairy products, and eggs
Campylobacter, found in meat and poultry
E. coli, found in ground beef and salads
Bacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks can happen when restaurants serve contaminated food to many people. An outbreak can also trigger recalls of produce and other foods.
Bacteria that cause gastroenteritis can be easily transmitted from person to person if someone carries the bacteria on their hands.
Every time a person with a bacterial infection touches food, objects, or other people, the bacteria have a chance to be passed on to others. The bacteria can even be spread through your own body if you touch your eyes, mouth, or other open parts of your body with hands that already have an infection.
You’re especially at risk of these infections if you travel a lot or live in a densely populated area. Washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer with more than 60 percent alcohol can help you avoid contracting infections from other people and your surroundings.
Types of intestinal infections
Specific strains of bacteria can cause several types of intestinal infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source says that this infection occurs when you eat raw or undercooked pork contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica.
Yersiniosis symptoms can occur 4 to 7 days after you’re exposed. They may include:
Staph food poisoning
Foods that are contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can cause staph food poisoning. These include:
Staph poisoning causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, according to the CDCTrusted Source. They can occur within hours of consuming food or drinks contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus.
If you do get staph food poisoning, know that severe illness is uncommon and symptoms don’t usually last longer than a day.
The CDCTrusted Source says that drinking water containing Shigella bacteria can cause a type of infection called shigellosis.
Typically, shigellosis symptoms begin 1 day after infection and can last up to 7 days. They include:
Although most people don’t need antibiotics, they can help shorten the duration of symptoms. Your doctor may recommend them if you have a weakened immune system.
Salmonellosis is a common infection that occurs when you eat foods contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. These may include:
certain vegetables, such as sprouts
The CDCTrusted Source estimates that Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections every year in the United States. This makes Salmonella one of the most common causes of foodborne illness.
Salmonellosis usually causes symptoms like cramps, fever, and diarrhea. They can occur between 6 hours and 6 days after infection and may last up to 1 week.
This type of intestinal infection is caused by the Campylobacter bacteria, the CDCTrusted Source says, which is most often found in undercooked meat and poultry.
Generally, symptoms begin 2 to 5 days after infection. They include:
While most people recover from campylobacteriosis without treatment, others can have serious complications and may require antibiotics to get better.
E. coli infection
According to the CDCTrusted Source, E. coli infection occurs when you eat foods contaminated with bacteria called Escherichia coli. These bacteria are often found in beef, salads, and certain vegetables, such as sprouts.
If you have an E. coli infection, you might have symptoms like cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. These usually start about 3 to 4 days after you’re exposed.
Although most E. coli infections are mild, certain strains can cause serious complications which may require hospitalization.
Therefore, talk with your doctor if you:
are unable to keep down liquids
have bloody diarrhea
experience diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days and is accompanied by a high fever