Foodborne Illness and How to Report a Foodborne Illness

Reporting a Foodborne Illness

Call the Kane County Health Department Environmental Health Division to report suspect foodborne illness at 630-444-3040 or use our Food Complaint Online Form. Email:

What is Foodborne Illness?

Any illness which can be caused by eating contaminated food or water is a foodborne illness. More than thirty different types of food borne illness are known.

Types of Foodborne I​llness:

Food Poisoning
Caused by toxins when certain types of microbes are allowed to grow in the food.

Caused when microbes (bacteria, protozoan) invade and begin attacking, usually, the digestive system.

Cause when virus particles enter the body through food or water. Common ones affect the digestive tract or the liver.


  • Most foodborne illnesses are of short duration (one-three days) and are not life threatening
  • Sudden onset of severe vomiting or diarrhea without any upper respiratory symptoms
  • Diarrhea lasting several days along with a fever
  • Diarrhea with blood or excessive mucus
  • Jaundice (yellowing skin or eyes)

Characteristics of Foodborne Illness:

  • The agents that cause foodborne illness cannot be tasted or smelled
  • Chances are your last meal was not the source of your illness. The time delay for common types of foodborne illness can range from 30 minutes to more than 30 days
  • You may feel fine for days following ingestion of a foodborne pathogen (germ)
  • Try to recall every meal, snack, and drink taken during the five days before your first symptoms
  • Also make note of all your activities like travel, visitors, meetings, shopping, contact with animals and events


  • In most cases antibiotic treatment is not needed. However, if your illness persists or gets worse, call your physician
  • With most types of foodborne illness, dehydration is a major concern. Drink plenty of fluids. Your physician may prescribe medicines to stop vomiting or diarrhea
  • When diarrhea is bloody, mucousy persists more than two days, or if there is a high fever, a stool culture is needed
  • Without results of a stool culture, investigation of the foodborne illness is very difficult. Often only an educated guess can be made as to what caused the illness

Transmission of Illness:

Many foodborne illnesses can be passed from person to person. Transmission can happen when people fail to wash their hands properly after using the toilet, before eating, touching their hands to their mouth, or handling food.

Impact of Foodborne Illness:

  • Each year foodborne illnesses contributed to the deaths of thousands.
  • The principal costs of foodborne illness are pain, suffering, and lost time from work.
  • Botulism, a rare type usually associated with improperly canned foods, is life threatening. ​

What to Do?

  • Take your temperature with a body thermometer (ear thermometers are safe and effective) several times during the course of the illness, if possible
  • Seek medical attention in case of severe dehydration, bloody stool, mucousy stool, or a fever that lasts more than 2 days
  • Call Kane County Health Department at 630-444-3040 if you suspect a meal is causing your illness


  • Wash hands with plenty of warm soapy water after using the toilet, before eating or handling food
  • Also wash hands, utensils, cutting boards and counters immediately after preparing raw meats
  • Keep cold food less than 42ºF and hot foods more than 135ºF
  • Cut roasts or turkey into smaller chunks before refrigeration. Stock pots of food must be broken down into containers with food no more than 4” deep. Rapid cooling is the goal
  • Cook all meats thoroughly so the juices run clear, never bloody
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling or eating
  • Know your source: Purchase foods only from reputable firms
  • Do not prepare foods for others when you have symptoms of diarrhea, fever, jaundice or vomiting

Chances are you’re not the only one who got sick! If we can find what caused your illness, we may be able to prevent other cases.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that fewer than 1 in 10 people tell the health department about their illness.


Foodborne illnesses are preventable. Their cost to society is high. Together we can win.