Bieber’s got a Bad Bug

As if Justin Bieber’s current South American tour didn’t already have enough problems

  • A charge of vandalism for spray painting graffiti in Rio de Janeiro,
  • A viral video of him sleeping in bed, taken by a Brazilian woman who is seen blowing him kisses
  • Being kicked out of his hotel room in Argentina due to rowdy Beliebers causing a ruckus outside the hotel
  • Ending a concert in Brazil early after being hit by a plastic water bottle

And now Bieber comes down with a bad case of food poisoning as documented in a series of tweets on Twitter.

“Sitting here with food poisoning and heard we won #bestmale at the #EMAs. Thanks everyone
“Argentina been a rough day but the show must go on. I’m coming” “This sucks. #sick food poisoning.”
“Not feeling so good. Actually pretty sick. Pulling it together. Argentina we got a show to do. Love u.

Unfortunately, the concert did not go well. Bieber started ninety minutes late and performed for less than an hour when he told the crowd he was not feeling well and left the stage. This drew boos  from the large crowd at Buenos Aires Rive Plate Stadium who had come to see the show.

Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun said that Justin’s food poisoning was so bad that he had spent eight hours getting intravenous fluids. Doctors had advised canceling the show, however Bieber did not want to disappoint his fans and went on anyway.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning occurs when you swallow food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs. Most cases are caused by common bacteria such as Staphylococcus or E. coli.

The germs may get into the food you eat (called contamination) in different ways:

  • Meat or poultry can come into contact with bacteria from the intestines of an animal that is being processed.
  • Water that is used during growing or shipping can contain animal or human waste.
  • Food may be handled in an unsafe way during preparation in grocery stores, restaurants, or homes.

Food poisoning can occur after eating or drinking:

  • Any food prepared by someone who does not wash their hands properly
  • Any food prepared using cooking utensils, cutting boards, and other tools that are not fully cleaned
  • Dairy products or food containing mayonnaise (such as coleslaw or potato salad) that have been out of the refrigerator too long
  • Frozen or refrigerated foods that are not stored at the proper temperature or are not reheated the right amount
  • Raw fish or oysters
  • Raw fruits or vegetables that have not been washed well
  • Raw vegetables or fruit juices and dairy products (look for the word “pasteurized,” which means the food has been treated to prevent contamination)
  • Undercooked meats or eggs
  • Water from a well or stream, or city or town water that has not been treated

Many types of germs may cause food poisoning, including: Campylobacter enteritis, cholera, E. coli enteritis, fish poisoning, Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and shigella.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

food-poisoning-diagramSymptoms from the most common types of food poisoning usually start within 2 – 6 hours of eating the food. That time may be longer or shorter, depending on the cause of the food poisoning.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness (may be serious)

How is food poisoning treated?

Treatment of food poisoning includes managing the diarrhea, controlling nausea and vomiting, and getting plenty of rest.

You can drink oral rehydration mixtures to replace fluids and minerals lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Rehydration fluids should include moderate amounts of sugar and salt to replace losses. Pedialyte is a prepared rehydration fluid for children and infants. Adults can use fluids like Gatorade, coconut water, or a home-made solution of  ½ teaspoonful each salt and baking soda and 4 tablespoonsful sugar in 4 ¼ cups (1 liter) water.

If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink or keep down fluids, you may need fluids given through a vein (by IV). This is may be more common in young children.

You can buy medicines at the drugstore that help slow diarrhea (such as Lomotil, Kaopectate) Do not use these medicines without talking to your health care provider if you have bloody diarrhea, a fever, or the diarrhea is severe. Do not give these medications to children unless advised by a physician.

Antibiotics are not prescribed for most forms of food poisoning.

Most people fully recover from the most common types of food poisoning within 12 – 48 hours. Some types of food poisoning can cause serious complications.

Death from food poisoning in people who are otherwise healthy is rare in the United States.
Possible Complications

Dehydration is the most common complication. This can occur from any causes of food poisoning.

Less common, but much more serious complications depend on the bacteria that are causing the food poisoning. These may include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bleeding problems
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Kidney problems
  • Swelling or irritation in the tissue around the heart


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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