Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Food poisoning can sometimes lead to chronic illness

The St. Petersburg Times Tampabay.com ran today’s article by Annys Shin’s (of the Washington Post) on the long-term health consequences of foodborne illnesses.

Campylobacter, a bacterium associated with raw chicken, a leading cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Certain strains of Salmonella can cause arthritis. And E. coli O157:H7 can release toxins that cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, or “HUS, a kidney disorder that in 25 to 50 percent of cases leads to kidney failure, high blood pressure and other problems as much as 10 years later, including the risk of birth defects.”

“Until recently, doctors were focused on the acute phase of food-borne infections, but since the 1990s, there has been "a more gradual recognition that some of the pathogens do have long-term (effects)," said Marguerite Neill, an infectious-disease specialist who teaches at Brown University.

“The impact of HUS, however, is great. .  . According to a long-term study of 157 HUS victims co-written in 1994 by Andrew Pavia, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Utah, more than half developed kidney problems seven or more years after the initial illness.

“These people face a lifetime of medical treatment. ‘Anyone with HUS will be monitored for the rest of their lives. If the acute course was severe enough, the risk of long-term kidney complications, including end-stage renal disease and kidney transplant, is quite high. The future medical cost alone can then be in the millions,’ said William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who sues retailers and food companies on behalf of food poisoning victims. . . .”

My wish for Santa is that everyone will focus more on food safety during the holidays and in the new year.

Hat tip to the Marler Blog by

No comments: