Foodborne Illnesses Can Have Serious, Long-Term Effects
When it comes to product safety, the odds are clearly against the American food consumer. More than 48 million Americans experience foodborne illnesses each year, and a recent FDA report states that salmonella alone can be found in 81 percent of ground chicken, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef and 39 percent of chicken. Vegetables and fruits are also common sources of bacteria.
Even if you haven’t been hospitalized for food poisoning, you’ve probably felt its milder effects. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps, watery diarrhea and fever can start within hours of eating the contaminated food.
These milder symptoms usually last for no longer than 10 days, but as the foodsafety.gov website points out, some foodborne illnesses can have serious, long-term effects, including:
- Kidney failure. Some E. coli bacteria can cause hemolytic-uremic syndrome, destroying red blood cells and causing kidney injury. It’s the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children.
- Chronic arthritis. Foodborne bacteria can cause some people to develop reactive arthritis, characterized by joint pain, eye irritation and painful urination. It can last months or years, and can even lead to chronic arthritis.
- Brain and nerve damage. Listeria infections can lead to meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain. Particularly in newborn infants, long-term consequences may include mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness or deafness.
- Guillain-Barré syndrome. Campylobacter infections trigger as many as 40 percent of the Guillain-Barré cases in the United States. The immune system attacks the body's nerves, causing paralysis that can last several weeks and usually requiring intensive care.
- Death. Approximately 3,000 people die each year from preventable, food-related illnesses.
If you experience significant food poisoning symptoms, seek immediate medical attention and report it to your county health authorities. You may help identify a potential outbreak and keep others from getting sick. And if the negligence of food manufacturers, suppliers or servers may have led to your severe foodborne illness, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you serve justice.