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Disease Name: Foodborne Illness / Food Poisoning

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Please review the Idaho Reportable Disease Rules (IDAPA 16.02.10) for the most up-to-date information.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. (2016). Investigative Guidelines. Boise, ID:  Division of Public Health.

Overview / Case Definition

Foodborne illness (sometimes called "foodborne disease," "foodborne infection," or "food poisoning) is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections. In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if they are present in food.

More than 250 different foodborne diseases have been described. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be foodborne.

Other diseases are poisonings, caused by harmful toxins or chemicals that have contaminated the food, for example, poisonous mushrooms.

These different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one "syndrome" that is foodborne illness. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many foodborne diseases.

Norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States.  The infective dose for Norovirus is extremely small.  As few as 18 organisms are needed to cause infection.  Symptomatic individuals may excrete billions of virus particles.


Daycare Facility

A person with diarrhea should not attend daycare while fecally incontinent or provide personal care to children in a daycare, unless medically cleared.  Restrictions, specific to the agent causing the diarrhea, can be found under the agent in question.

Food  Service Facility

According to the Idaho Food Code, individuals experiencing vomiting or diarrhea are excluded from work until asymptomatic for at least 24 hours or provides medical documentation.  Idaho Food Code:  http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Health/FoodProtection/Full%20Idaho%20Food%20Code.pdf

If the person is diagnosed with Norovirus infection, they may work on a restricted basis 24 hours after the symptoms resolve.  Restrictions remain until the individual is medically cleared or more than 48 hours have passed since the food employee became asymptomatic.

Health Care Facility

A person with diarrhea should not provide personal care to persons in a health care facility, unless medically cleared.   Restrictions, specific to the agent causing the diarrhea, can be found under the agent in question.


Within 1 working day

Reportable by Healthcare and Labs:

Reportable by Food Service Facility:

Suspect Reportable:

Reporting Timeframe: Within 1 working day

Diagnosis / Testing

Stool cultures are important to determine the organism, responsible for the infection.  Healthcare providers are encouraged to order stool testing in situations where multiple patients may be associated with a common source.  Testing of individuals or food sources may be provided by the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories during outbreak situations.  Permission for testing must be obtained prior to submission.  Contact SCPHD at (866) 710-9775 to report a possible outbreak or for testing information.


Additional Information

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. (2016). Investigative Guidelines. Boise, ID:  Division of Public Health.

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