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Additives (food additives): Any natural or synthetic material, other than the basic raw ingredients, used in the production of a food item to enhance the final product. Any substance that may affect the characteristics of any food, including those used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food.
Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS): A system operated by FDA which monitors and investigates all complaints by individuals or their physicians that are believed to be related to a specific food, food and color additives or vitamin and mineral supplements. The ARMS computerized database helps officials decide whether reported adverse reactions represent a real public health risk associated with food so that appropriate action can be taken.
Aerobic: Needs oxygen to grow.
Aerosolization: The production of an aerosol -- a fine mist or spray containing minute particles.
Allergen (food allergen): A food allergen is the part of a food (a protein) that stimulates the immune system of food allergic individuals. A single food can contain multiple food allergens. Carbohydrates or fats are not allergens.
Allergy (food allergy): A food allergy is any adverse reaction to an otherwise harmless food or food component (a protein) that involves the body's immune system. To avoid confusion with other types of adverse reactions to foods, it is important to use the terms "food allergy" or "food hypersensitivity" only when the immune system is involved in causing the reaction.
Allograft: Graft derived from an individual of the same species that is sufficiently unlike genetically so that it might interact antigenically.
Anaerobic: Absence of oxygen.
Anaphylaxis: A rare but potentially fatal condition in which several different parts of the body experience food-allergic reactions simultaneously, causing hives, swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing. It is the most severe allergic reaction to an allergen and requires immediate medical attention when it occurs.
Anticoagulant: Any agent used to prevent the formation of blood clots.
Antigen: A protein or carbohydrate substance (as a toxin or enzyme) capable of stimulating an immune response.
Antibody titers: A measure of proteins of high molecular weight that are produced normally after stimulation by an antigen and act specifically against the antigen in an immune response.
Anuria: Absence of urine excretion.
Asymptomatic: Without symptoms. For example, an asymptomatic infection is an infection with no symptoms.
Asymptomatic infection: An infection without symptoms. Also known as inapparent or subclinical infection.
Avian influenza: Avian influenza is a disease most commonly found among poultry. The virus is found in bird droppings, nasal secretions and saliva of infected birds. Poultry workers in unsanitary conditions can become infected with avian influenza by inhaling the virus from infected birds or transplanting the virus from contaminated hands to mouth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), proper handling and cooking provides protection against avian influenza and other viruses and bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli.
Bacteria: One-celled microorganisms that are either free-living or parasitic, some of which may cause illness in humans and/or animals. They can be carried by water, wind, insects, plants, animals, and people. Bacteria survive well on skin and clothes and in human hair. They also thrive in scabs, scars, the mouth, nose, throat, intestines, and room-temperature foods.
Bacteremia: Presence of viable bacteria in the bloodstream.
Biological hazard: Refers to the danger of food contamination by disease-causing microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi) and their toxins and by certain plants and fish that carry natural toxins.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is also known as "mad cow disease." It is a rare, chronic degenerative disease affecting the brain and central nervous system of cattle. Cattle with BSE lose their coordination, develop abnormal posture and experience changes in behavior. Clinical symptoms take 4-5 years to develop, followed by death in a period of several weeks to months unless the affected animal is destroyed sooner.
Basal ganglia: A region consisting of 3 clusters of neurons located at the base of the brain that are responsible for involuntary movements.
Calicivirus: A group of viruses belonging to the family Caliciviridae that includes: (1) Norovirus , a common cause of food poisoning and acute gastroenteritis in humans; (2) Sapovirus, formerly called "Sapporo-like virus" (SLV) and sometimes referred to as classic or typical calicivirus, which can also cause gastroenteritis in humans; (3) Vesivirus, the swine vesicular exanthema virus; and (4) Lagovirus, the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus.
Case: An individual who is ill following ingestion of food. Outbreak cases reported by CDC are determined to be contaminated on the basis of laboratory analysis and/or epidemiological evidence. Not all outbreak cases need be confirmed by laboratory analysis if there is sufficient epidemiological evidence linking them to the outbreak.
Campylobacter: Food-borne bacteria that cause the human illness, campylobacteriosis. Eighty percent of the 2.5 million annual U.S. illnesses from this bacteria are from contaminated food (such as poultry). It causes more illnesses each year than any other food-borne bacteria.
Campylobacteriosis: An illness in humans caused by Campylobacter jejuni or C. coli. campylobacteriosis ranges from a mild illness with diarrhea lasting a day, to severe abdominal pain, and severe diarrhea (sometimes bloody), sometimes accompanied by fever, occasionally lasting for several weeks. The incubation period for most cases is 2 to 5 days, and the illness usually lasts from 2 to 10 days, depending on its severity. Although the illness is generally regarded as a relatively mild disease, death can occur in some cases, especially for the very young, very old, or immunocompromised. A small percentage of cases develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC, composed of 11 Centers, Institutes and Offices, aims to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury and disability. The Center is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Cholecystitis: Inflammation of the gall bladder.
Clostridium perfringens: C. perfringens intoxication typically occurs 6 to 24 hours after ingestion of food that bears large counts of this bacteria. The illness in humans is frequently a mild gastrointestinal distress, lasting only about a day. Deaths are uncommon.
Colonization: "Implantation and growth of a microorganism on a host" (Dorland's Dictionary 1994).
Colony forming unit (CFU): Unit of measurement for viable bacteria numbers.
Contamination: The unintended presence of potentially harmful substances, including microorganisms in food.
Control group: The group of subjects in a study to whom a comparison is made in order to determine whether an observation or treatment has an effect. In an experimental study it is the group that does not receive a treatment. Subjects are as similar as possible to those in the test or treatment group.
Correlation: An association, or when one phenomenon is found to be accompanied by another. A correlation does not prove cause and effect. Correlation may also be defined statistically.
Cortical necrosis: Tissue death of the outer layer of the kidney.
Creatinine: A chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism and transported through the bloodstream to the kidneys. The kidneys filter out most of the creatinine and dispose of it in the urine. As the kidneys become impaired, the creatinine will rise.
C-reactive protein: A special type of protein produced by the liver that is only present during episodes of acute inflammation.
Critical control point (CCP): A step at which control can be applied that is essential to prevention or elimination of a food safety hazard or reduction of the hazard to an acceptable level.
Cross-contamination: The transfer of harmful substances or disease-causing microorganisms to food by hands, food-contact surfaces, sponges, cloth towels, and utensils that touch raw food, are not cleaned, and then touch ready-to-eat foods. This can occur, for example, if the food preparer does not wash hands after handling raw meat or eggs, if cooked meat is placed on the plate that held raw meat, or if raw vegetables are cut on the same cutting board or with the same knife used for cutting raw meat without it being washed in between uses.
Cryptosporidium parvum: A one-celled animal (protozoa) that can cause food-borne illness.
CT scan: A computerized axial tomography scan is more commonly known by its abbreviated name, CAT scan or CT scan; an x-ray procedure which combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body.
Dialysis / hemodialysis: Process of removing blood from an artery to purify it (remove wastes or toxins from the blood) and adjust fluid and electrolyte imbalances, adding vital substances, and returning it to a vein (see also peritoneal dialysis).
Diarrhea: Three or more unusually frequent evacuations of watery loose stools within a 24-hour period. Diarrhea may be caused by microbial, parasitic, or viral infections, or other factors.
Double-blinded study: A study in which neither the study groups nor the evaluator are aware of who receives the experimental treatment or procedure versus the placebo or comparison treatment.
Dysphasia: Difficulty in swallowing.
E. coli: O157:H7: The bacteria Escherichia coli: O157:H7 is a type of E. coli associated with food-borne illness. Healthy cattle and humans can carry the bacteria. It can be transferred from animal to animal and animal to human, and from animal to human on food. Transmission from person to person through close contact is a potential problem, especially among young children in daycare.
E. coli O157:H7 disease: Usually a mild gastrointestinal illness that occurs 3 to 5 days after eating contaminated food. Severe complications, however, can arise. Hemorrhagic colitis is distinguished by the sudden onset of severe abdominal cramps, little or no fever, and diarrhea that may become grossly bloody. Although less than 5 percent of E. coli O157 disease cases develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), it is a severe, life-threatening illness. HUS is a disease characterized by red blood-cell destruction, kidney failure, and neurological complications, such as seizures and strokes. Most HUS cases are children under 5 years old, although the feeble elderly may also be at risk.
E. coli non-O157 STEC: The food-borne bacteria, Shiga-toxin Escherichia coli (STEC), have the same toxin as E. coli O157 and causes similar disease. Eighty-five percent of the 36,740 annual U.S. illnesses from this bacteria are from contaminated food.
E. coli non-O157 STEC disease: Usually a mild gastrointestinal illness that occurs 3 to 5 days after eating contaminated food. Severe complications, however, can arise. Hemorrhagic colitis is distinguished by the sudden onset of severe abdominal cramps, little or no fever, and diarrhea that may become grossly bloody. Although less than 5 percent of E. coli O157 disease cases develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), it is a severe, life-threatening illness. HUS is a disease characterized by red blood-cell destruction, kidney failure, and neurological complications, such as seizures and strokes. Most HUS cases are children under 5 years old, although the feeble elderly may also be at risk.
Effective renal plasma flow (ERPF): The amount of plasma flowing through the kidney tubules per unit time; differentiated from renal plasma flow which is approximately 10% greater than ERPF.
Electroencephalograph (EEG): An apparatus for detecting and recording brain waves.
End-stage renal disease (ESRD): The final stages of a terminal kidney disease or condition when there is complete or near complete failure of the kidneys to function.
Endocarditis: Infection of the heart.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA's mission is to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment—air, water and land—upon which life depends. Through regulation, EPA tries to ensure the human population and the environment are protected from environmental risks and exposures.
Epidemiology: The study of distribution and determinants of diseases or other health outcomes in human populations. It seeks to expose potential associations between aspects of health (such as cancer, heart disease, etc.) and diet, lifestyle, habits or other factors within populations. Epidemiological studies may suggest relationships between two factors, but do not provide the basis for conclusions about cause and effect. Possible associations inferred from epidemiological research can turn out to be coincidental.
Etiology: The cause of a disease.
Fibrinolytics: Clot-dissolving drugs.
Food-borne illness: Disease, usually gastrointestinal, caused by organisms or their toxins carried in ingested food. Also commonly known as "food poisoning." Examples are the disease salmonellosis, which is caused by Salmonella bacteria and the disease botulism, which is caused by the toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
Food Code: A 400-page reference guide published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Food Code instructs retail outlets (such as restaurants and grocery stores) and institutions (such as nursing homes and schools) on how to prevent food borne illness. It consists of model requirements for safeguarding public health and ensuring that food is unadulterated (free from impurities) and honestly presented to the consumer. The FDA first published the Food Code in 1993 and revised it every two years through 2001; at that time, it was agreed that the Food Code would be revised every four years. The last revision was in 2005. The Food Code has been adopted by many states.
Food contact surface: Any equipment or utensil that normally comes in contact with food or that may drain, drip, or splash on food or on surfaces normally in contact with food. Examples: cutting boards, knives, sponges, countertops, and colanders.
Food irradiation: The exposure of food to sufficient radiant energy (gamma rays, x-rays and electron beams) to destroy microorganisms and insects. Irradiation is used in food production and processing to promote food safety.
FoodNet: The Food-borne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) is the principal food-borne disease component of CDC's Emerging Infections Program (EIP). FoodNet is a collaborative project of the CDC, nine EIP sites (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Tennessee), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The project consists of active surveillance for food-borne diseases and related epidemiologic studies designed to help public health officials better understand the epidemiology of food-borne diseases in the United States.
Food safety: Food safety is a relative and not absolute matter. Relative food safety can be defined as the practical, certainty that injury or damage will not result from food or ingredient used in reasonable and customary manner and quantity.
Fungi: A group of microorganisms that includes molds and yeasts.
Gastric: Relating to the stomach.
Gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the intestine and stomach. Can cause nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Gastroenteritis has numerous causes: including infectious organisms (viruses, bacteria, etc.), food poisoning, and stress.
Genotype: The genetic constitution (the genome) of a cell, an individual or an organism.
GI tract: Gastrointestinal tract, or digestive tract, is the pathway for digesting food that begins at the mouth and includes, in turn, the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and ends with the rectum/anus. The components of the defense mechanisms against food-borne pathogens of the GI tract include: 1) an acidic stomach, 2) an active intestinal immune system, 3) bacterial flora in the intestine, 4) bile salts and digestive enzymes, 5) mucus, 6) and peristaltic action.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR): The rate at which blood is filtered through tufts of capillaries in the kidney.
Glomerulonephritis: A disorder that causes inflammation of the internal kidney structures (specifically, the glomeruli); it may be a temporary and reversible condition, or it may be progressive.
Glomerular: Pertaining to the glomerulus, a tiny structure in the kidney that filters the blood to form urine.
Graft: Placing tissue or organs from one area on the body or from another person or an animal into the patient’s body; in this case transferring a kidney from one person to another.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS): An autoimmune reaction of the body that affects the peripheral nerves and causes weakness, paralysis, and occasionally death.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (Plan)): The underlying approach under HACCP for preventing food-borne illness and promoting quality is to identify the danger spots and try to avoid them. Instead of putting the burden on government to discover that a food safety problem exists, HACCP shifts responsibility onto the industry to ensure that the food it produces is safe. Food producers will have to prevent bacterial contamination from occurring in the first place. HACCP works by the following principles:
- Identify the likely health hazards to consumers in a given product.
- Identify the critical points in the processing where the hazards may occur.
- Establish safety measures to prevent the hazard from occurring.
- Monitor to make sure the safety measures are working.
- Establish an appropriate remedy if monitoring shows a problem.
- Establish detailed record keeping to document monitoring and remedies taken.
- Verify that the whole system is working.
Hazard analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards associated with the food under consideration to decide which are significant and must be addressed in the HACCP plan. Hazard analysis consists of two steps, identification and evaluation.
Hemiparesis: Muscular weakness or partial paralysis restricted to one side of the body.
Hemodialysis: Separation of large and small molecules of the blood by use of selective diffusion through a semipermeable membrane. A medical treatment used to treat kidney failure.
Hemolytic anemia: Anemia caused by excessive destruction (as in chemical poisoning, infection, or sickle-cell anemia) of red blood cells.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS): HUS is a disease characterized by red blood-cell destruction, kidney failure, and neurological complications, such as seizures and strokes. HUS especially strikes children under 5 years of age and the immunocompromised elderly.
Hemorrhagic Colitis: Bloody infection/inflammation of the colon (bowel), or a clinical syndrome manifested by bloody inflammation of the colon. This syndrome can be the result of several diseases, including E. coli O157:H7.
Histological: In reference to the minute structure of tissues discernible with the microscope.
Hyperfiltration: Abnormal increase in the filtration rate of the renal glomeruli.
Hypertension: Hypertension is the persistently elevated arterial blood pressure. It is the most common public health problem in developed countries. Emphasis on lifestyle modifications has given diet a prominent role for both the primary prevention and management of hypertension.
Hyponatremia: Deficiency of sodium (salt) in the blood.
Immune system: The cells and tissues which are responsible for recognizing and attacking foreign microbes and substances in the body.
Immunocompromised: An individual with an existing disease or weakened physical condition who may be more susceptible to becoming ill from food-borne illness.
Incidence: The number of new cases of food-borne illness in a given population during a specified period (e.g., the number of new cases per 100,000 population per year).
Incubation period: In medicine, the time from the moment of exposure to an infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear. For example, the incubation period of chickenpox is 14-16 days.
Infarct/infarction: An area of necrosis (death) in a tissue or organ resulting from obstruction of the local circulation by a thrombus or embolus.
Infection: An illness or carrier state arising from colonization of food-borne microbial pathogens in the human gastrointestinal tract or other parts of the human body. Human antibodies that resist these pathogens may cause chronic complications.
Infectious dose: The number of organisms that make individuals ill or carriers. In reality, there is a probability distribution associated with different pathogen exposure levels.
Inflammation: A basic way in which the body reacts to infection , irritation or other injury, the key feature being redness, warmth, swelling and pain . Inflammation is now recognized as a type of nonspecific immune response.
Internal/external capsule: Fibrous express ways that contain nerves to transmit information within certain parts of the brain.
Isolation rate: In microbiology, the rate at which an organism is identified in a culture.
In vitro: Outside the living body and in an artificial environment.
Intravenous (IV): Within a vein.
Ischemia: Localized tissue anemia due to obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood (as by the narrowing of arteries by spasm or disease).
Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance is an inherited inability to properly digest dairy products, due to a deficiency in the amount of the enzyme, β-galactosidase in the small intestine. This enzyme is necessary for the hydrolysis of lactose (a disaccharide) into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance, including abdominal cramps, flatulence and frothy diarrhea, can increase with age.
Leukocyte: White blood cell.
Leukocytosis: Increase in the number of white blood cells.
Listeria: Food-borne bacteria that cause the human illness, listeriosis. Ninety-nine percent of the 2,518 annual U.S. illnesses from this bacteria are from contaminated food (such as soft cheese, ground meat, and ready-to-eat meats).
Listeriosis: A gastrointestinal illness in humans caused by Listeria. Illness caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, may be either mild or severe. Milder cases are characterized by a sudden onset of fever, severe headache, vomiting, and other influenza-type symptoms. Severe cases can result in meningitis, chronic illness, and death. Listeriosis may appear mild in healthy adults and more severe in fetuses, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Women infected with Listeria during pregnancy may transmit the infection to the fetus, possibly leading to spontaneous abortions or babies born with visual, mental, or other problems. Outbreak data show that the incubation period ranges from 3 to 70 days.
Meningitis: Infection of the brain or spinal tissues.
Meat and poultry irradiation: Use of X-rays, electron beams, or gamma rays to damage or destroy living organisms that may be present in food products. Irradiation can be used to sterilize food for storage at room temperature, eliminate or reduce pathogens, delay spoilage, control insect infestations, delay ripening, or inhibit sprouting. Extensive scientific research has shown that irradiated food is safe to eat.
Microangiopathy: A disease of very fine blood vessels.
Microorganism: A small life form, seen only through a microscope, that may cause disease. Examples: bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses.
Microvascular: Of, relating to, or constituting the part of the circulatory system made up of minute vessels (as venules or capillaries) that average less than 0.3 millimeters in diameter.
Monoclonal antibody: An antibody derived from a single cell in large quantities for use against a specific antigen
Morphologic: Of, relating to, or concerned with form or structure.
Mortality: The number of deaths in a given time or place; the proportion of deaths in a given population.
MRI / magnetic resonance imaging: A radiology technique using magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures.
Morbidity: The incidence of disease; the rate of sickness (as in a specified community or group).
Nausea: Nausea is the urge to vomit. It can be brought by many causes including, systemic illnesses, such as influenza, medications, pain, and inner ear disease.
Nephrotic syndrome: A constellation of signs and symptoms including protein in the urine, low blood protein levels, high cholesterol levels, and swelling; results in damage to the kidneys, particularly the basement membrane of the glomerulus.
Neutrophil: Type of white blood cell, filled with neutrally-staining granules, tiny sacs of enzymes that help the cell to kill and digest microorganisms it has engulfed.
Norovirus: A group of viruses that are a common cause of food poisoning and acute gastroenteritis ("stomach flu") that can strike quickly with force and make a person feel very sick but which typically resolves within 2-3 days. The characteristic symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea , and abdominal cramping. The diarrhea is not bloody. Fever, if present, is low-grade. Dehydration is the main complication, especially in infants and the elderly, and may need medical attention.
Norwalk virus: A family of small round viruses that are an important cause of viral gastroenteritis (viral inflammation of the stomach and intestines). Norwalk disease is a significant contributor to illness in the US. Only the common cold is reported more frequently as a cause of disease. About a third of all cases of viral gastroenteritis after infancy are due to Norwalk viruses.
Oliguria: Reduced excretion of urine.
Outbreak: An incident in which two or more people, who are typically unrelated, experience the same illness after eating the same food.
Outbreak data: CDC data on food-borne disease outbreaks define an outbreak as an incident in which two or more persons experienced a similar illness after ingestion of a common food, and epidemiologic analysis implicated a food as the source of the illness. There are two exceptions, botulism and chemical poisoning, in which one case constitutes an outbreak.
Parasites: Organisms that derive nourishment and protection from other living organisms known as hosts. They may be transmitted from animals to humans, from humans to humans, or from humans to animals. Several parasites have emerged as significant causes of foodborne and waterborne disease. These organisms live and reproduce within the tissues and organs of infected human and animal hosts, and are often excreted in feces. Some common parasites are Giardia duodenalis, Cryptosporidium parvum, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Toxoplasma gondii, Trichinella spiralis, Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm), and Taenia solium (pork tapeworm).
Parenteral: Drug or substance, like supplementary nutrition, administration by intravenous, intramuscular, or subcutaneous injection; especially introduced other than by way of the intestines.
Pasteurization: The process of destroying microorganisms that could disease. This is usually done by applying heat to food. Three processes used to pasteurize foods are flash pasteurization, steam pasteurization, and irradiation pasteurization.
Pathogens: Virus, bacterium, parasitic protozoan, or other microorganisms that cause infectious disease by invading the body of an organism know as the host. Note that infection is not synonymous with disease because infection does not always lead to injury of the host.
Pathogenesis: The origin of a disease and the chain of events leading to that disease.
Perishable: Food that is subject to decay, spoilage, or bacteria unless it is properly refrigerated or frozen.
Peritoneal dialysis: Technique that uses the patient's own body tissues inside of the belly (abdominal cavity) to act as a filter to remove waste products and excess water from the body.
Plasmapheresis: Separating out the plasma from the whole blood, replacing the plasma, and returning plasma and original blood cells to the patient.
Platelet: An irregular, disc-shaped element in the blood that assists in blood clotting. During normal blood clotting, the platelets clump together.
Placebo: An inert or harmless substance used especially in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (as a drug).
Pneumonia: Acute or chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the lungs. The disease is typically caused by bacteria, viruses, or other agents.
Potentially Hazardous Foods: A food that is natural or synthetic and that requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms.
Prevalence: The total number of cases of a given disease at a particular point in time, includes new (i.e., incidence) as well as chronic cases.
Primary: First in order of time or development.
Prodromal: A symptom or set of symptoms that occur before the onset of a disease or condition.
Proteinuria: Protein in the urine.
Prothrombotic: A substance which encourages the production of blood clots.
Pulse-Field Gel Electrophorsis (PFGE): The DNA fingerprinting method that scientists use to determine the source of bacteria in foods.
PulseNet: FSIS participates in PulseNet, a national network of public health laboratories directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on foodborne bacteria and assists in the detection of foodborne illness outbreaks and traceback to their sources, including detection of a linkage among sporadic cases. PulseNet, combined with epidemiology, has been key in enabling Federal agencies to detect and control outbreaks of foodborne illness rapidly.
Randomized: Things or persons put in a random order so that every thing or person is equally likely to be selected; study subjects are randomly distributed into groups which are either subjected to the experimental procedure (or use of a drug) or which serve as controls
Receptor: A structure on the surface of a cell (or inside a cell) that selectively receives and binds a specific substance.
Rectal prolapse: The falling down or slipping of a the rectum (the terminal part of the intestine) from its usual position.
Reiter's syndrome: Inflammation of the joints and sometimes the eyes and urinary tract. Reiter's syndrome (a form of reactive arthritis) typically lasts for 6 weeks and can go on to develop other rheumatoid syndromes, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Reactive arthritis is seen equally in females and males, and sometimes in children. Almost all sexually acquired Reiter's syndrome cases are seen in males aged 20-40 years.
Retina: The sensory membrane that lines most of the large posterior chamber of the eye; functions as the immediate instrument of vision by receiving the image formed by the lens and converting it into chemical and nervous signals which reach the brain by way of the optic nerve.
Reservoir of infection: "1. Any person, animal, arthropod, plant, soil, or substance, or a combination of these, in which an infectious agent normally lives and multiplies, on which it depends primarily for survival, and where it reproduces itself in such a manner that it can be transmitted to a susceptible host. 2. The natural habitat of the infectious agent" (Dict. of Epid. 1995, p. 146).
Resistance: "The natural ability of an organism to resist microorganisms or toxins produced in disease" (Dorland's Dictionary 1994).
Salmonella (nontyphoidal): Salmonella is a Gram-negative bacterium, occurring in many animals, especially poultry and swine. In the environment, salmonella can be found in water, soil, insects, factory and kitchen surfaces, animal fecal matter, and raw meats, poultry (including eggs) and seafood. Acute symptoms of the illness caused by the Salmonella species include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and fever. Ninety-five percent of the 1.4 million annual U.S. illnesses from these bacteria are from contaminated food (such as poultry, meat, and eggs).
Salmonellosis: An illness in humans caused by Salmonella (nontyphoidal). Common symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and sometimes vomiting. Although the illness is generally regarded as a relatively mild disease, death can occur in some cases, especially for the very young, very old, or immunocompromised. Salmonellosis usually appears 6 to 74 hours after eating contaminated food and lasts for a day or two.
Sepsis: "Presence of disease-causing organisms or their toxins in the blood or tissues" (Webster's Dictionary 1984). Sepsis is a syndrome of decreased blood pressure and capillary leakage.
Septicemia: "Systemic disease caused by pathogenic organisms and their toxins in the bloodstream" (Webster's Dictionary 1984).
Sequelae: Abnormal conditions that arise following the acute phase of a disease. An after effect of disease, injury, procedure, or treatment For example, kidney failure may follow acute E. coli O157:H7 disease.
Serotype / group: "A group of related microorganisms distinguished by its composition of antigens" (Webster's Dictionary 1984). Serotype is sometimes called serovar. A group of intimately related microorganisms distinguished by a common set of antigens.
Shiga toxin / Stx: A poisonous product of the E. coli organism; toxins are usually very unstable and can cause damage to cells. Toxins typically induce antibody formation.
Shigellosis: Also called bacillary dysentery, causes bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, and cramps. The CDC estimates that more than 400,000 cases occur every year in the United States.
Sodium: The major positive ion (cation) in fluid outside of cells. When combined with chloride, the resulting substance is table salt. Excess sodium is excreted in the urine. Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction.
Spore: A thick-walled protective structure produced by certain bacteria and fungi to protect their cells. Spores often survive cooking, freezing, and some sanitizing measures.
Staphylococcus aureus: S. aureus intoxications occur usually within 1 to 6 hours following consumption of the toxins produced by the bacteria, but it may occur within 30 minutes. Illness caused by S. aureus enterotoxin is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Although the illness generally does not last longer than 1 or 2 days, the severity of the illness may indicate the need for hospitalization.
Statistical significance: The probability of obtaining an effect or association in a study sample as or more extreme that the one observed if there was actually no effect in the population. Based on the hypothesis that if there truly is no effect, the results of a study are unlikely to have occurred. A P value of less than five percent (P<0.05) means the result would occur less than five percent of the time if there were no effect, and is generally considered evidence of a true treatment effect or a true relationship.
Steam Pasteurization: A technology used to kill bacteria on the surface of cattle and hog carcasses by using steam to briefly raise the carcass surface temperature to kill pathogens. It occurs after the evisceration stage but before final cooling.
Surveillance data: Data on individual cases of food-borne illness that were cultured in a laboratory and reported to the CDC surveillance system.
Tetraspastic: A state of hypertonicity or increase over the normal tone of a muscle, with heightened deep tendon reflexes, affecting all four extremities.
Thalamus / thalami: The part of the brain that serves to relay impulses and especially sensory impulses to and from the cerebral cortex (the gray matter of the cerebrum that functions chiefly in coordination of sensory and motor information).
Thrombocytopenia: Persistent decrease in the number of blood platelets that is often associated with hemorrhagic conditions -- called also thrombopenia.
Stupor: Decreased mental status or consciousness; loss of alertness.
Thrombosis: The formation or presence of a blood clot within a blood vessel.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP): A blood disorder characterized by low platelets, low red blood cell count (caused by premature breakdown of the cells), abnormalities in kidney function, and neurological abnormalities; caused by a deficiency in the von Willebrand Factor cleaving protease, known as ADAMTS13. The loss of this enzyme results in large complexes of von Willbrand factor circulating in the blood, which in turn causes platelet clumping and red blood cell destruction.
Thrombogenic: Tending to produce a thrombus (a clot of blood formed within a blood vessel and remaining attached to its place of origin).
Toxins: Poisons that are produced by microorganisms, carried by fish or released by plants. Examples: Botulism caused by the toxin from Clostridium botulinum, scombroid poisoning from the naturally occurring scombroid toxin in some improperly refrigerated fish, such as mackerel and tuna.
Toxoplasma gondii: A protozoan parasite that causes the illness toxoplasmosis, which may be manifested in mild flu-like symptoms. Most people infected with the parasite do not have any symptoms. People vary in their risk of getting sick from this parasite. People with suppressed immune systems, such as AIDS and cancer patients, face higher risks. One outbreak associated with undercooked meat indicates that the incubation period ranges from 10 to 23 days. Women infected with T. gondii during pregnancy may transmit the infection to their fetus, possibly leading to stillbirths or babies born with birth defects ranging from hearing or visual impairments to mental retardation.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): The United States Department of Agriculture comprises of many agencies charged with different tasks related to agriculture and our food supply. Among these is ensuring a safe, affordable, nutritious and accessible food supply. The USDA, through the Food Safety Inspection Service (“FSIS”), is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry and egg products. The USDA also enhances the quality of life for the American population by supporting production of agricultural products; caring for agricultural, forest and range lands; supporting sound development of our rural communities; providing economic opportunities for farm and rural residents; expanding global markets for agricultural and forest products and services; and working to reduce hunger in America and throughout the world.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): The Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”) is the public health agency in the USDA responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged, as required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The Food and Drug Administration is part of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the regulatory agency responsible for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of all foods sold in interstate commerce except meat, poultry and eggs (which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). FDA develops standards for the composition, quality, nutrition, safety and labeling of foods including food and color additives. It conducts research to improve detection and prevention of contamination. It collects and interprets data on nutrition, food additives and pesticide residues. The agency also inspects food plants, imported food products and feed mills that make feeds containing medications or nutritional supplements that are destined for human consumption. And it regulates radiation-emitting products such as microwave ovens. FDA also enforces pesticide tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency for all domestically produced and imported foods, except for foods under USDA jurisdiction.
Vascular endothelial growth factor: Substance made by cells that stimulates new blood vessel formation.
Vibrio: Members of the Vibrio genus of bacteria are responsible for several distinct illnesses. V. cholerae is the cause of epidemic cholera. V. parahaemolyticus and other marine Vibrios may cause gastroenteritis following the consumption of contaminated fish or shellfish, with symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. V. vulnificus may cause severe or fatal illness in persons who eat contaminated raw shellfish, depending on the health status of the affected individual. Healthy individuals may experience gastroenteritis within 16 hours of infection, but persons with chronic liver disease may be affected by a syndrome known as primary septicemia, resulting in septic shock and death in about half of all cases.
Virus: A protein-wrapped genetic material which is the smallest and simplest life-form known. A virus is smaller than a bacteria, and cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself. It may reproduce with fidelity or with errors (mutations)-this ability to mutate is responsible for the ability of some viruses to change slightly in each infected person, making treatment more difficult. Example: Norovirus, hepatitis A.
Virulence: The pathogenic or poisonous potential of bacteria, fungi, or other agents.