Food Poisoning Can Lead To Paralysis, Other Long Term Health Problems

We’ve been following the issue of <"">food poisoning and related illnesses—often long-term—associated with contamination with these toxins. Now, the LATimes is citing two new reports on this growing problem that were released by the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention.

The reports found that young children, under age four, are more unduly affected by these pathogens and that long-term pathogenic effects might be linked to “more disability, lost productivity, doctor visits, and hospitalizations,” said the LATimes. The paper cited “premature death, paralysis, kidney failure,” and life-long “seizures or mental disability” which occur long after initial symptoms.

According to the reports, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella tend to more adversely affect children under four, said the LATimes; about half of the reported cases affect people under 15. The LATimes noted that smaller doses of the toxins make smaller, younger people sick, and “their less-experienced immune systems” cannot fight the pathogens as effectively as the systems of adults.

We recently wrote that food poisoning can lead to other adverse health effects, some long-term and serious, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), specifically in people who suffered from Salmonella or Campylobacter, with the risk increasing three-fold. The risk increased to five-fold if the patient was hospitalized close to the illness. More than 600,000 Americans have some kind of IBD every year. IBD encompasses a group of disorders, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which cause the intestines to become inflamed. IBD can cause abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and bleeding from the intestines.

Victims of both infections are also at risk of developing a form of reactive arthritis called Reiter’s Syndrome, which typically affects large weight-bearing joints such as the knees and the lower back. Campylobacter infections are also associated with the development of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a potentially paralyzing illness that can leave victims with mild to severe neurological damage. The LATimes noted that Salmonella is the number one cause of food borne illness in the U.S. and is typically found in foods with animal origins, causing 16,000 illnesses and 556 deaths annually. Campylobacter can be found in raw or undercooked poultry, raw milk, and contaminated water, and causes about two million illnesses, generally in children under four years of age, and 124 deaths, annually, said the LATimes. Longer-term effects include Guillain-Barre and reactive and chronic arthritis.

E. coli victims sometimes require kidney transplants and may have scarred intestines that cause lasting digestive difficulty. Even E. coli patients who supposedly recovered can experience long-term health problems later on. For instance, it is estimated that 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, in which their kidneys and other organs fail. According to the reports cited by the LATimes, E. coli O157:H7 tends to impact those under the age of 19 and taints ground beef and other meats, green leafy vegetables, raw milk, and raw milk cheeses. Some 15 percent of children infected with this strain develop HUS.

Listeria monocytogenes infects about 2,500 people in the U.S., killing 500. Contamination occurs in meat and poultry as well as vegetables tainted via soil or fertilizer, noted the LATimes. Listeriosis can kill fetuses, prompt premature births, and can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns and neurological effects and cardiorespiratory failure in adults, reported the LATimes.

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