Bacillus cereus, the causative agent of an emetic type of food-borne illness



Bacillus cereus is the causative agent of two distinct forms of gastroenteritic disease connected to food-poisoning. It produces one emesis-causing toxin and three enterotoxins that elicit diarrhea. Due to changing lifestyles and eating habits, B. cereus is responsible for an increasing number of food-borne diseases in the industrial world. In the past, most studies concentrated on the diarrhoeal type of food-borne disease, while less attention has been given to the emetic type of the disease. The toxins involved in the diarrhoeal syndrome are well-known and detection methods are commercially available, whereas diagnostic methods for the emetic type of disease have been limited. Only recently, progress has been made in developing identification methods for emetic B. cereus and its corresponding toxin. We will summarize the data available for the emetic type of the disease and discuss some new insights in emetic strain characteristics, diagnosis, and toxin synthesis.