A2: Deadly Food Poisoning

Article and Link:

“Student, 20, died in his sleep from food poisoning bug after eating pasta that he’d left out on a worktop for five days’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6638715/20-year-old-American-student-mysteriously-died-sleep-eating-simple-meal.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

Summary:

A college student ate noodles with pasta sauce he had reheated after leaving out for 5 days.   Within 30 minutes he came down with a headache nausea, and stomach cramps.   He began vomiting and having diarrhea.   Thinking he had a case of food poisoning, he went to bed to sleep it off and was found dead in his bed 11 hours later.  Upon investigation it was found he died from Bacillus cereus, which is a spore forming bacteria that produces toxins that causes vomiting and diarrhea.   The autopsy showed that the concentration of B. cereus was so high it caused his liver to shut down.   Samples of the food were analyzed, results determined significant contamination within the pasta, no traces within the sauce.

Connections:

As we just talked about spores in class, how easy they are to spread and how deadly they can be I found this article fitting.   Having talked about weaponizing spores, this article shows how contaminated food can have deadly effects.   As we were recently talking about generation times, I did some research and found it only takes 26 minutes for B. cereus to double and 8.6 hours do multiply by 1,000,000!   Which sheds light on why the boy died after leaving the food out for 5 days.

Critical Analysis:

I found this article interesting in that it went with a topic we just talk about.   The testing was completed by a medical examiner and scientists, so I believe the results are accurate.   This was written as a news article, they used easy to understand language making it readable for people not in the science community

Question:

Could a test stick could be created and marketed that could test for common microbes that cause food poisoning that people could use at home or in restaurants?

5 Comments for “A2: Deadly Food Poisoning”

algloger

says:

Perhaps a stick could be used as an indication device, however, from an economic standpoint, it might be really pricey which would diverge medical companies from trying to develop and sell it.
A test stick would have to be able to differentiate bacteria that are harmful from those that are not. What a lot of bacteria that we’ve learned about in class have very common attributes: cell walls of peptidoglycan, cell membranes, and sometimes flagella and fimbrae. The stick would have to look deeper at the strain than any of the aforementioned attributes such as its DNA in order to specify something unique about it like its genotype to determine if it would be harmful to humans. Perhaps, however, the stick could have some kind of indicator that reacts with harmful enzymes synthesized by the pathogen, however this might also be expensive. Not to mention, people often eat more than one meal a day so people would have to buy multiple test kits for different meals. Perhaps it would be easier and safer for people to cook their food thoroughly and if they don’t know where it came from or if it’s past its shelf life, just to throw it away.

hmhanson

says:

Economically speaking I think they could make a device, much like a blood sugar testing device, where only the machine itself would be non-disposable, and you would just need to buy cartridges, or the end part you would use to swab would be disposable and changed out each use. While it is easy to spot spoiled food, as in this case, this young man should have known better, it is not always easy to spot spoiled or contaminated food. As with the last round of Romaine Lettuce contaminated with E. Coli, or the eggs contaminated with Salmonella. How many people go out to eat and end up getting food poisoning? Yes, it could be argued that people should wash their food and some of these things would be alleviated, but how do you know if you have cleaned it well enough? There are only a few big contributors to food poisoning that a rapid test would need to test for: E.coli, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, and Botulism. While E. coli and Salmonella are both gram negative and B. cereus and Botulism are gram positive, there could still be an assay test developed that could detect them to protect people from getting sick. There are already home test kits, that resemble home pregnancy tests available for Salmonella, they would just need to adapt it to include the other 3.

djmulkey2

says:

I, too, watched that Chubbyemu video. Very interesting channel. I found it curious that DailyMail dug up this classic case study a week after the video; perhaps independent Youtubers have surpassed classical news outlets in terms of timeliness and creating engaging and informational content.

I believe most test sticks on the market now respond to concentrations of specific chemicals or proteins, so a test stick would work given the preconditions that 1. a strain of bacteria in the food had an identifiable chemical or protein on the outside of its wall, and 2. the bacteria is already in high enough concentrations that the stick could get a response visible to the human eye. Of course, by that point, the food is probably already not worth eating.

Lukash Platil

says:

I really like your idea of an at home test for very questionable food such as the one discussed in the article. Since the spore releases deadly toxins you could test for particular toxins with your strip. Or have a chip in your Tupperware that tests for toxins on a molecular level.

llharrod

says:

I agree that the article was written with the general public as the audience and that the results described were logical considering the circumstances and experimental tests. I think you raise a compelling idea by inquiring as to the possibility of using rapid testing methods to detect microbes within food. An article I found discussed this topic, asserting that a bacteria-detecting chip can help to identify contaminated food and water (ScienceDaily, 2018). Using 3-mercaptophenylboronic acid, which binds to bacteria, and a smart phone app to visualize the results, individuals can supposedly easily detect microbes within food (ScienceDaily, 2018). This method could potentially become widely available to the public to prevent illnesses caused by microbial consumption. In cases like the one in the article, however, it seems like a test would not be necessary. Typically, eating food (which requires refrigeration) that has been left at room temperature for several days is not advisable, regardless of whether there are indications of microbial growth.

Source:
Low-cost tool for detecting bacteria in food, water. (2018, January 23). Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180123235119.htm

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