In 2008, an Associated Press article featuring one of Stop’s volunteer advocates, Alyssa Chrobuck, highlighted the need for increased awareness and research of the long-term health consequences of foodborne illness. At age 5, Alyssa was hospitalized as a result of E. coli poisoning, the source of which was tainted hamburger from a fast food restaurant.
Alyssa, now an adult, suffers from a myriad of health problems including high blood pressure, chronic colon inflammation, and endometriosis.
Included in the article was this statement from Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Folks often assume once you’re over the acute illness, that’s it, you’re back to normal and that’s the end of it. [The long-term consequences] are an important but relatively poorly documented, poorly studied area of foodborne illness.”
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious illness that usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS may occur after infection with some kinds of E. coli bacteria. Those who have suffered from HUS may be at risk for other kidney-related problems later in life.
These annual checkups should be performed:
A small number of persons with Campylobacter, Shigella, or Salmonella infections develop pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination called Reactive Arthritis. This arthritic inflammation can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat.
Listeria infections can lead to meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain. If a newborn infant or fetus is infected with Listeria, long-term consequences may include mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness, or deafness.
Foodborne bacterial infections can also precipitate Guillain-Barré syndrome — a rare disorder that affects the nerves of the body. This occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the body’s own nerves. It can result in paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care. As many as 40% of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in the U.S. may be triggered by a Campylobacter infection.
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