Foodborne Illness Long Term Consequences

Long-Term Consequences

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.”

Kidney Failure/HUS

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:

  • Blood Pressure — scarring of the kidney tissue from HUS could cause high blood pressure early in life
  • Urine Exam — elevated protein levels in the urine may be indicative of kidney damage
  • Blood Test — to further measure kidney function

Information about HUS can be found here and here. For information on dialysis click here and here.

Chronic Arthritis

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.

Learn more about Reactive Arthritis here and here.

Brain and Nerve Damage

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.

Read a survivor’s story here.

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.

If you or a loved one has been affected by any of these long-term complications, we would like to hear your story. You can share it here.

You can reach us by phone: 773-269-6555 or email:

Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search