Anybody can get food poisoning, but some people are more likely to get seriously ill.
Every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. However, certain groups of people are more likely to get a foodborne illness (also called food poisoning) or get seriously ill. Learn why certain groups have a higher chance for food poisoning and what steps they can take to protect themselves.
People more likely to get a foodborne illness are:
- Children younger than 5 years of age
- Adults aged 65 and older
- People with weakened immune systems from medical conditions or their treatment, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or diabetes
- Pregnant women
Some People are at Higher Risk
Some people are more likely to get food poisoning because their ability to fight germs and sickness is not as effective as other people’s for a variety of reasons.
Young children have immune systems that are still developing, so their ability to fight germs and sickness isn’t as strong. Food poisoning can be particularly dangerous for them because illness can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Children younger than 5 are three times more likely to be hospitalized if they get a Salmonella infection. And kidney failure strikes 1 out of 7 children under age 5 who are diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection.
Older adults have a higher risk because as people age, their immune systems and organs don’t recognize and get rid of harmful germs as well as they once did. Nearly half of people aged 65 and older who have a lab-confirmed foodborne illness from Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria or E. coli are hospitalized.
People with weakened immune systems can’t fight germs and sickness as effectively. People on dialysis are 50 times more likely to get a Listeria infection.
Pregnant women are more likely than other people to get sick from certain germs. For example, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get a Listeria infection.