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FPAdvisor (Food Pathogen Advisor)
A Food-Borne Disease Database

Disclaimer:  This software program is provided as an instructional aid to food regulatory personnel seeking a better understanding of the range of food-borne illnesses. The website owner, the USAF, or the DoD makes no assurance of its accuracy or completeness for any other purpose. It should not be used to diagnose or treat an illness. Ill individuals should seek appropriate care from a licensed health care provider.

FPAdvisor Help Contents

Select an item from the list below to see the contents of that section:

About FPAdvisor

The purpose of FPAdvisor is to allow investigators to consider a wide range of disease possibilities (contained in the FPAdvisor database) in a food-borne disease investigation at computer speed. Presently, there is a tendency to consider only a handful of causative agents that are frequently involved in food-borne disease outbreaks.

By entering known information such as the incubation period, specific symptoms, type of food, etc., the program will generate a limited list of disease possibilities. The investigator can then choose to view or print details of each disease possibility. Some can be readily ruled out while others may warrant laboratory or other investigative follow up.

The database has been in use since 1992 and is believed to be free of error.


FPAdvisor 2.0 is based on the original dBase III program by Thomas E. Crook of the Food Service Sanitation Section, Food and Dairy Division, Michigan State Department of Agriculture and the FPAdvisor 1.0 program written by Mark Myatt and Tracey Greenwood of Brixton Health / Brixton Books and Thomas E. Crook. A suitable reference is:

  • Myatt MA, Crook TE, Greenwood TE, FPAdvisor - A Food-borne Disease Database, Brixton Health, Llanidloes, UK, 1997

The database used by FPAdvisor was compiled from:

  • Bryan FL, Diseases Transmitted by Foods - A Classification and Summary (Second Edition), Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA, 1982

  • Bryan FL, Anderson HW, Cook OD, Guzewich J, Lewis KH, Swanson RC, Todd ECD, Procedures to Investigate Food-borne Illness (Fourth Edition), Committee on Communicable Diseases Affecting Man (Food Subcommittee), International Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians, Inc., Iowa, USA, 1988

Using FPAdvisor

FPAdvisor allows you to enter known information about disease type, suspect foodstuffs, signs and symptoms, incubation period, and duration of symptoms and will return a list of disease possibilities for which further details may be viewed or printed.

FPAdvisor may be used in a variety of ways. For example, a simple query might list all of the diseases associated with shellfish. A more specific report might generate a list of diseases with an incubation period of less than one hour. The use of more conditions will result in a more narrowed list of disease possibilities.

It is recommended that the database query be conducted using characteristics (i.e. symptoms) common to the majority of those reported ill. The search should begin using only two or three conditions before adding others. This practice will result in more disease choice options for consideration. This wider list can then be narrowed by adding more search criteria.

The duration of disease is the least reliable data on which to base a query because duration information is not available for most food-borne diseases. The use of duration information may lead to possible diseases being inadvertently omitted from further consideration.

What the Details Show

The details form displays the following data: etiologic agent and source, incubation or latency period, signs and symptoms, source, reservoir and epidemiology, foods usually involved, specimens to collect, factors contributing to food-borne outbreaks, and control measures. The information is organized for rapid review and allows the comparison of the same kind of data about different diseases.

No attempt has been made to include all poisonous plants, poisonous chemicals, or radioactive materials in the database. Only those plants that are used as food or mistaken for food and those that illustrate a different class of poison are included. There has been no attempt to list all foods that have been incriminated as vehicles in outbreaks. Except in the case of rare diseases, only foods of public health importance are listed.

The symptoms of each disease are usually in the order either of their occurrence or their predominance. Individual cases however, will not manifest all the symptoms and, in some cases, additional signs and symptoms will occur. The incubation period (latency period in the case of poisonings) is the time from ingestion of the contaminated food until the first symptoms appear. Individual cases will have incubation periods that vary from the stated times. Control measures are listed in the order of relative importance.

Blank spaces in the detail text indicate that the appropriate information is insignificant or unknown. The authors encourage comment on missing diseases and information and submission of additional data.

Basic Operation

The stand-alone software allows users to enter known information about disease types, suspect foodstuffs, signs and symptoms, incubation periods, and duration of symptoms and will return a list of disease possibilities for which further details may be viewed or printed.

This software may be used in a variety of ways. For example, selection criteria may list all diseases associated with shellfish. Other selection criteria may generate a list of diseases with an incubation period of less than one hour.

Type of Disease

The disease type is selected from a radio button. Only one disease type may be selected. If the user does not want to include a disease type in the selection criteria, the user must ensure that the default option (No query) is selected.

Suspected Food

The suspected food is selected from a radio button. Only one suspected food may be selected. If the user does not want to include a suspected food in the selection criteria, the user must ensure that the default option (No query) is selected.

Available Symptoms

The user may select an unlimited number of symptoms as is appropriate. It is recommended that users start by specifying only the most common symptoms and then add or remove symptoms to further refine the selection criteria.

Symptom criteria are chosen by clicking on the “Available Symptoms,” then selecting the > arrow to move the selected item to the “Selected Symptoms” dialog box. Another symptom can be selected accordingly from the “Available Symptoms” list.  One hundred Available Symptoms are provided.

Incubation Period

The incubation period is selected from a radio button. Only one incubation period may be selected. If the user does not want to include the incubation period in the selection criteria, the user must ensure that the default option (No query) is selected.


The duration is selected from a radio button. Only a single duration may be selected. If the user does not want to include the duration in the selection criteria, the user must ensure that the default option (No query) is selected. Note: Entering duration criteria may lead to unreliable results because duration information is not available for most of the food-borne illnesses.

When the user has entered the criteria, the user can click the Query button. A list of diseases that meet the selection criteria will be displayed in a new window; FPAdvisor: Matching Records dialog box.

If no diseases meet the selection criteria, you may need to modify the selection criteria by removing less common symptoms from the criteria or by specifying a “No query” condition for some of the criteria selections.

To view the details for a particular disease, click on the disease name in the Matching Records dialog box and the page will be displayed. The user can then print the disease information.

Symptom Definitions

FPAdvisor allows you to create a query using a combination of any of the symptoms listed below. Brief definitions are given when the meaning of the listed symptom may not be self-explanatory.



Abdominal pain

As symptom.

Acetone breath

Breath smells like acetone. This occurs when metabolism is upset as in starvation, excessive vomiting, and diabetes mellitus. Acetone is also excreted in urine.


Albumin in the urine. This occurs in diseases affecting the kidneys. Albumin is a heat coagulable water soluble protein.


Inability to remember.


Diminished oxygen carrying capacity of the blood due to a reduction of the number of red cells and / or their hemoglobin content.


Lack / loss of appetite.


Cessation of the production of urine not the retention of urine due to an inability to empty the bladder.


Fluid collection in the abdominal cavity.


Inability to coordinate voluntary muscles characterized by irregularity of movement.

Bitter taste in mouth

As symptom.

Black or dark brown urine

As symptom.

Bleeding mouth

As symptom.


As symptom.


Feeling of fullness, excessive intestinal gas.

Blurred or double vision

As symptom.

Burning sensation

Subjective hot feeling in mouth or any other area of the body.

Cardiac failure

Heart failure (including arrest and congestive cardiac failure).


As symptom.


State of profound unconsciousness, insensibility, or stupor.


As symptom.


As symptom.


Abnormal and violent spasms of involuntary alternate muscular contraction and relaxation due to disturbance of cerebral function. A fit.


As symptom.


Bluish discoloration of skin.


As symptom.


Abnormal depletion of body fluids.


Extravagant talking or raving. The patient may be disoriented, confused, have hallucinations, have disordered thoughts and / or speech, or be excited.


As symptom.

Diarrhea (bloody)

As symptom.

Diarrhea (mucoid)

As symptom.

Diarrhea (watery)

As symptom.

Difficulty breathing

Respiratory distress.

Difficulty speaking

As symptom.

Difficulty swallowing

As symptom.


Loss of balance.


As symptom.


Abnormal amount of fluid in the tissues causing a puffy swelling. The fluid tends to collect in the dependent parts (e.g. the ankles) or around the eyes.

Excessive urination

As symptom.

Exhaustion / prostration

As symptom.

Eye infection / discharge

As symptom.


As symptom.


Blushing. Reddish skin coloration usually of face and / or chest.


Loss (death) of soft tissue due to loss of blood supply.

General malaise

Feeling of pending illness.


Uncontrollable laughter, child-like behavior.

Hair loss

As symptom.


Foul (bad) breath.


Perception of objects with no reality.


As symptom.


Blood in urine.


Spitting / coughing up of blood.


Sever bleeding / loss / flow of blood characterized by pallor of skin and mucous membranes, quick and sighing respiration, fast and weak pulse, restlessness, low temperature, sweating, and collapse.


Skin very sensitive to touch.


Abnormal decrease in blood sugar.


Inability to sleep.


As symptom.


Yellowish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to deposition of bile pigments.

Kidney Damage

Kidney dysfunction or damage.

Liver damage

Any liver dysfunction or damage

Loss of bone mass

As symptom.

Low temperature

As symptom.


Inflammation of the membranes surrounding and covering the brain and spinal cord. It is characterized by fever, headache, vomiting, backache, stiff neck, stupor, and coma.

Metallic taste

Metallic taste in mouth.

Mouths sores

Lesions, ulcers, etc. in the mouth.

Muscular aches

As symptom.


Inflammation of the muscles of the heart.


Urge to vomit. Queasiness. Stomach distress.


Excessive anxiety, jumpy, inability to sit still.

Nose bleed

As symptom.


Loss of the sense of touch.

Other NOS

Any other symptom not listed.


Noticeable strong and rapid beating of the heart.


Loss of nerve function resulting in the inability to stimulate contraction of muscles. Note that muscles will not necessarily appear flaccid.


Intolerance of light.


Inflammation of the lungs.

Pulse (rapid)

As symptom.

Pulse (slow)

As symptom.

Pulse (weak)

As symptom.

Pupils constricted

Abnormally small pupils.

Pupils dilated

Abnormally large pupils.

Pupils fixated

Pupils of fixed size with little or no response to changes in light.


As symptom.

Respiratory failure

Total cessation of the respiratory system.


As symptom. Excessive.


Invasion, circulation, and multiplication of micro-organisms in the blood.


Severe circulatory disturbance characterized by fall in blood pressure, weak and rapid pulse, thirst, and pallor. Depression of the vital processes.

Skin lesion

Any injury or morbid change in the function or structure of the skin.

Sore joints

As symptom.


Sudden convulsive involuntary movement.


Enlarged spleen.

Stiff neck or back

Stiff or paralyzed neck and / or back.

Stomach cramps

As symptom.


As symptom. Excessive.


Painful and ineffectual straining to empty the bowel or bladder.


As symptom. Excessive.


As symptom.


Toxic substances in the blood.


As symptom.


As symptom.


As symptom.