Bacillus cereus

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Bacillus cereus is an endemic, soil-dwelling, Gram-positive, rod-shaped, beta hemolytic bacterium. Some strains are harmful to humans and cause foodborne illness, while other strains can be beneficial as probiotics for animals.[1] B. cereus bacteria are facultative anaerobes, and like other members of the genus Bacillus can produce protective endospores.

Contents

Symbiosis

B. cereus competes with other microorganisms such as Salmonella and Campylobacter in the gut, so its presence reduces the numbers of those microorganisms. In food animals such as chickens,[2] rabbits[3] and pigs,[4] some harmless strains of B. cereus are used as a probiotic feed additive to reduce Salmonella in the intestines and cecum. This improves the animals' growth as well as food safety for humans who eat their meat.

Pathogenesis

B. cereus is responsible for a minority of foodborne illnesses (2–5%), causing severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.[5] Bacillus foodborne illnesses occur due to survival of the bacterial endospores when food is improperly cooked.[6] Cooking temperatures less than or equal to 100 °C (212 °F) allows some B. cereus spores to survive.[7] This problem is compounded when food is then improperly refrigerated, allowing the endospores to germinate.[8] Cooked foods not meant for either immediate consumption or rapid cooling and refrigeration should be kept at temperatures above 60 °C (140 °F).[7] Germination and growth generally occurs between 10–50 °C (50–122 °F),[7] though some strains are psychrotrophic.[9] Bacterial growth results in production of enterotoxins, one of which is highly resistant to heat and to pH between 2 and 11;[10] ingestion leads to two types of illness, diarrheal and emetic (vomiting) syndrome.[11]

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