Some germs (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) affect your stomach and intestines and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. These foodborne and diarrheal infections, or enteric illnesses, are spread by eating contaminated food ("food poisoning"), drinking or swimming in contaminated water, touching animals or their environments, or coming into contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person. 

Anyone can get sick from these germs. Some people are more likely to have a serious illness. This includes children under five years old, adults aged 65 and older, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems.

In Vermont, the most common foodborne and diarrheal infections are:

Always practice good handwashing, handle food safely, and stay home when you're sick. 

Get more everyday tips to protect yourself 

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What to do if you have diarrhea

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Stay home and don't prepare food or drinks for others until all symptoms have been gone for 24 hours.
  • Contact your health care provider if you are concerned. They may recommend an over-the-counter medicine to help slow down diarrhea.

Campylobacter Infections

Campylobacteriosis infection is caused by Campylobacter bacteria. It's the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S. More cases occur in the summer than in winter.

People who are sick with Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may accompany the diarrhea. Symptoms typically begin two to five days after infection and last about one week. Most people recover on their own, but some may need antibiotics. Learn more about Campylobacter from CDC

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In Vermont, Campylobacter infection outbreaks have been linked to drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk, eating undercooked chicken livers, or having contact with an infected animal.

Cryptosporidium (Crypto) Infections

Cryptosporidiosis (or "Crypto" for short) is an illness caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium. Anyone can get sick with Crypto, but people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms.

The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms may include stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Symptoms typically begin two to 10 days after becoming infected and last about 1-2 weeks. Most people recover without treatment. Learn more about Crypto from CDC

Escherichia coli (E. coli) Infections

Escherchia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of animals and humans. Most E. coli are harmless, but some kinds of E. coli can make people very sick. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is the one most commonly heard about in the news concerning foodborne outbreaks. 

People get sick from swallowing tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces. Some foods carry a high risk of infection and should be avoided, like unpasteurized (raw) milk, unpasteurized apple cider, and soft cheeses made from raw milk. 

Symptoms usually begin 3-4 days after exposure. Symptoms often begin slowly with mild belly pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days. The illness typically lasts five to 10 days. Most people fully recover, but some may develop serious complications.  Learn more about E. Coli at CDC

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Say No to Raw Dough

When making cookies, brownies, cakes or bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite of the raw dough before it's fully baked. But raw dough can contain germs like E. Coli that make you sick. Don't eat raw dough or batter, including homemade play dough for crafts. Learn more at CDC 

Norovirus Infections

Norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States. Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus, which spreads easily and quickly. Norovirus is sometimes called the “stomach flu” or “stomach bug.” However, it is not related to the flu. 

Norovirus infections can happen at any time of year, but they occur more often during winter. Common settings of outbreaks include restaurants and catered events, schools and child cares, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships.

Symptoms usually start 12-48 hours after being exposed to the virus. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Most people with norovirus get better within 1-3 days. Antibiotics will not help treat norovirus infections because they fight bacteria, not viruses.

Learn more about preventing norovirus and managing outbreaks

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Hand sanitizer doesn't work well against norovirus! 

You can use hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing, but hand washing is best at killing germs like norovirus.

Salmonella Infections

Salmonellosis is an illness caused by bacteria called Salmonella. You can get Salmonella from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, or from touching infected animals, their feces, or their environment. Many types of pets and farm animals (including those found at fairs, petting zoos, and backyard flocks) can carry Salmonella and other germs that make people sick. 

Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after exposure and last 4-7 days. Symptoms usually include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Most people recover without treatment but some may have serious illnesses and need to be hospitalized. Babies, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. Learn more about Salmonella at CDC

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Shigella Infections

Shigella bacteria cause an infection called shigellosis. Symptoms typically begin one to two days after exposure. The illness can last up to a week. Most people recover completely, although sometimes people are sick enough to be hospitalized. Symptoms include fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea (which can sometimes be bloody). Learn more about Shigella at CDC

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Practice Safer Sex

Germs like Shigella can spread easily to other people through sexual contact. People with an infection might have Shigella on their skin in the anal and genital areas, including the thighs and buttocks. You can't tell if someone has germs in these areas just by looking at the skin. If you or your partner has diarrhea that lasts more than three days, do not have sex. It's recommended to wait at least three weeks after diarrhea ends. Take steps to reduce contact with poop during sex, like washing your hands, genitals, and anus with soap and water before and after.

Learn more from CDC

More Resources
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Campylobacter Fact Sheet
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Salmonella Fact Sheet
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Swimming-related Illnesses (CDC)
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