• Loose / Watery stools. Stools looking like rice water are most likely due to cholera (infection by a bacteria named Vibrio cholera).
  • Abdominal bloating (distension) / cramps (spasmodic pain in abdomen).
  • Sense of urgency to pass stools.
  • Sometimes nausea, vomiting and fever may also be present.
  • Malaise, lethargy.
    • Usually, symptoms take 1 – 4 days (incubation period) to appear after consumption of contaminated food or water.
    • Most episodes generally last 2 – 3 days and are self resolving.
    • In severe and prolonged cases it can be a life threatening situation.


Dysentery (Bloody Diarrhea)

  • Loose stools with mucus and blood.
  • Fever (usually high grade, more than 101°F).
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps.

Food Poisoning

  • Diarrhea (as given above).
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in abdomen (cramps).
  • Fever may also be present.
  • Dehydration may set in as diarrhea / vomiting continues.
  • In most serious and untreated cases death may also occur.
    • Symptoms generally appear within few hours to 2 days (incubation period) after consumption of the contaminated food.
    • Other associated symptoms due to infection by a particular bacteria can also be present:
      • Headache, fever and pain in abdomen with Salmonella infection.
      • Weakness and paralysis are features of botulism.
      • Sudden onset vomiting with abdominal pain appear in staphylococcal infection.
      • Arthritis (joint inflammation), meningitis (inflammation of membranes of brain) and convulsion (fits) in case of Campylobacter.
      • Kidney failure and passage of blood in urine in children under five years can occur due to E. coli infection.
      • Flu like illness (fever, muscle aches), headache, neck stiffness or fits can occur in Listeria infections.